A New Book (co-edited) by Jim Cox

 

Cox, James. L., & Adam Possamai (eds.), 2016, Religion and Non-Religion among Australian Aboriginal Peoples. Abingdon [OX]: Routledge, 210 pp., ISBN 9781472443830 (hbk), £95

This volume, in the series Vitality of Indigenous Religions, edited by Graham Harvey, Afeosemime Adogame & Ines Talamantez, offers a significant contribution to the new and strongly emerging field of non-religion and secularity studies. That field that has mainly been developed in the last decade for secularising Europe and North America, but hardly yet for the rest of the world. Religion and Non-Religion among Australian Aboriginal Peoples is, therefore, a pioneering study. It draws on Australian 2011 Census statistics to ask whether the indigenous Australian population, like the wider Australian society, is becoming increasingly secularised or whether there are other explanations for the surprisingly high percentage of Aboriginal people in Australia who state that they have ‘no religion’. Contributors from a range of disciplines consider three central questions: How do Aboriginal Australians understand or interpret what Westerners have called ‘religion’? Do Aboriginal Australians distinguish being ‘religious’ from being ‘non-religious’? How have modernity and Christianity affected Indigenous understandings of ‘religion’? These questions re-focus Western-dominated concerns with the decline or revival of religion, by incorporating how Indigenous Australians have responded to modernity, how modernity has affected Indigenous peoples’ religious behaviours and perceptions, and how variations of response can be found in rural and urban contexts.

The study of non-religion and secularity is as yet a virgin field in the study of the religions of Africa and its Diaspora. This volume on the rise of non-religion and secularity among indigenous peoples of Australia will likely serve as an eye-opener for students of the religions of Africa and its Diaspora