Anne-Christine Hornborg



JSS 1.2

Past News

JSS 1.2 Are We All Spiritual? A Comparative Perspective on the Appropriation of a New Concept of Spirituality

by Professor Anne-Christine Hornborg, University of Lund, Sweden
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 1, no. 2, 2011, pp. 249-268

‘I’m spiritual – not religious’ has become a key expression of a new form of globalized religion focusing on a specific notion of spirituality, signifying a universal human essence, located deep inside each individual as a potential for wellbeing and personal transformation. The message is: spirituality unites us into a single humanity, while religion, with its dogma and rituals, separates us. This new concept of spirituality works mostly in symbiosis with neoliberal ideas about the market, where neo-spiritual therapists and coaches offer to assist individuals in finding and developing their spirituality, or ‘inner potential’. In this article, I suggest that this contemporary view of spirituality is produced within a particular social context, and is thus not self-evidently adopted in other contexts. To illustrate this, I draw on my experience of fieldwork in Canadian Mi’kmaq reserves and examples of contemporary spirituality, mainly from Sweden. I also consider whether Mi’kmaq notions of spirituality are congruent with those of the ‘new spirituality’.

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