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Starting with a case study demonstrating how religious practices can create consistent emotional reactions across cultures, this chapter examines the relationship between embodiment, emotion, and language by reflecting on the divide between the two branches of affect theory—the Deleuzian and the phenomenological. The Deleuzian branch (represented by scholars such as Brian Massumi and Patricia Clough) focuses on affect as a permanent fluctuation of “becoming” that is categorically opposed to structure. The phenomenological branch (represented by scholars such as Eve Sedgwick and Sara Ahmed), by contrast, considers affects as prestructured emotional responses (shame, fear, happiness, etc.) to things and relationships. The phenomenological approach emerging out of the work of Silvan Tomkins is more consistent with a Darwinian evolutionary perspective. This understanding helps the humanities to draw more complex maps of religion and power, viewing them as material arrangements of preexisting affective forms rather than discursive social constructs.

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