This article is the result of ethnographic fieldwork among American practitioners of Heathenry, a reconstructionist religious movement whose practitioners align themselves with ancient Germanic and Norse cosmology. In this article, I respond to previous representations of Heathenry as racist by exploring the intricacies and nuances of members' co-construction of their own ethnic folkway. I show that Heathens construct group boundaries by distinguishing between categories of folkish and universalist, while mostly living between racial exclusivity and complete inclusivity. In other words, Heathens self-consciously establish symbolically meaningful categories to distinguish between practitioners' understandings of who gets to be Heathen, of racial/ethnic exclusivity, and complete inclusivity. While some American Heathens find race or ancestry irrelevant, most do not and all must participate in the conversations that seek to define Heathenry as an indigenous tradition, purely a system of faith, or a complex folkway struggling to be ethnic while resisting racist labels.
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Research Article| February 01 2013
Reconsidering Heathenry: The Construction of an Ethnic Folkway as Religio-ethnic Identity
Nova Religio (2013) 16 (3): 52–76.
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Jennifer Snook; Reconsidering Heathenry: The Construction of an Ethnic Folkway as Religio-ethnic Identity. Nova Religio 1 February 2013; 16 (3): 52–76. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2013.16.3.52
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