Skip to main content Accessibility help

Beyond Belief: Religious Experience, Ritual, and Cultural Neuro-phenomenology in the Interpretation of Past Religious Systems

  • Jennifer L. Dornan (a1)


While there is growing agreement within anthropology and archaeology that notions of ‘experience’ can contribute to our interpretations of the past, this article suggests that there is a need to incorporate insight gathered from the fields of cultural phenomenology and cultural neuro-phenomenology into general anthropological understandings of cross-cultural religious experience. Specifically, this article explores the insight offered by cultural neuro-phenomenology into the relationships between religious symbolism, ritual, power, religious belief, and individual religious experience. In assessing the role that belief, as instantiated through ritually-induced religious experience, plays in the maintenance or alteration of state-level religious systems, this article will outline the ways in which this insight may both help us better to understand past religious experience as well as to interpret the maintenance and alteration of past religious systems. To demonstrate the potential of this approach, this article will conclude with a brief discussion of the fall of the Classic Maya state religious system.


Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • ISSN: 0959-7743
  • EISSN: 1474-0540
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-archaeological-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed