Vernacular Religion and Contemporary Spiritualities. Tribute to Leonard Norman Primiano (1957-2021)


  • Marion Bowman The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes



vernacular religion, UFO, Leonardo Primiano, tradition


It is now more than a quarter century since Leonard Primiano’s seminal article “Vernacular Religion and the Search for Method in Religious Folklife” launched the concept of Vernacular Religion to denote the study of “religion as it is lived: as human beings encounter, understand, interpret, and practice it” (Primiano 1995: 44). Vernacular Religion demands that scholars take seriously the minutiae of how people live their religion in particular contexts, their interaction with material culture, their often flexible attitude to and use of tradition, their frequently complex relationship and negotiations with institutional forms of religiosity, and above all their agency.
This issue of Traditiones brings insights into how people deal with enormous issues such as our place in the universe, our relationship with-other-than human beings, death, apocalypse and afterlives using an ‘toolkit’ of institutional and vernacular knowledge.


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Bowman, Marion. 2022a. In Memoriam Leonard Norman Primiano (1957– 2021). Folklore 13. DOI: (in print)

Bowman, Marion. 2022b. Afterword: 25 Years of Vernacular Religion Scholarship. In Vernacular Knowledge: Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs, eds. Ülo Valk and Marion Bowman. Sheffield: Equinox.

Bowman, Marion. 2000. More of the Same? Christianity, Vernacular Religion and Alternative Spirituality in Glastonbury. In Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality, eds. Steven Sutcliffe and Marion Bowman, 83–104. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Bowman, Marion. 2009. From Glastonbury to Hungary: Contemporary Integrative Spirituality and Vernacular Religion in Context. In Passageways. From Hungarian Ethnography to European Ethnology and Sociocultural Anthropology, ed. Gábor Vargyas, 195–221. Budapest: Department of European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, The University of Pécs - L’Harmattan Publishing House.

Bowman, Marion, and Ülo Valk, eds. 2012. Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. Sheffield, Bristol: Equinox Publishing.

Gustavsson, Anders. 2011. Cultural studies on death and dying in Scandinavia. Oslo: Novus.

Gustavsson, Anders. 2021. Faith, Death and the Internet in Norway and Sweden. Traditiones 50 (3): DOI:

Hubbes, László Attila. 2019. The Re-Paganisation of Christian Symbolism. In Expressions of Religion: Ethnography, Performance, Visual, eds. István Povedák, Eugenia Roussou and Clara Saraiva, 241–295. Berlin: Lit-Verlag.

Hubbes, László Attila. 2021. Recombinant Revelations: 2012 in Millenarian and New Age Cyber-Apocalypticism: Discourse Analysis of the Symbolism and Visual Rhetoric in Two Digital Environments Predicting 2012-Apocalypse. Traditiones 50 (3). DOI:

Hubbes, László Attila, and István Povedák. 2014. Ethno-paganism as a Placebo-effect for Identity Reconstruction Processes in Hungary and Romania? Religiski. Filozofiski Raksti (17): 133–152.

Illman, Ruth, and Mercédesz Czimbalmos. 2020. Knowing, Being, and Doing Religion: Introducing an Analytical Model for Researching Vernacular Religion. Temenos 56 (2): 171–199. DOI:

Kapaló, James A., and Kinga Povedák. 2022. Reframing Religious Underground. In The Secret Police and the Religious Underground in Communist and Post-Communist Eastern Europe, eds. James A. Kapaló and Kinga Povedák, 1–36. New York, Abingdon: Routledge.

Kivari, Kristel. 2016. Dowsing as a Link Between Natural and Supernatural: Folkloristic Reflections on Water Veins, Earth Radiation and Dowsing Practice. Dissertationes Folkloristicae Universitatis Tartuensis 24. Tartu: University of Tartu Press.

Povedák, István. 2014. MOGY. A Vessel Ritual in Post-Socialist Hungary. Traditiones 41 (1): 147–158. DOI:

Povedák, István. 2020a. The Religious Neo-nationalism in Hungary. In Religion, Populism, Neonationalism, eds. Florian Höhne and Torsten Meireis, 289–308. Berlin. DOI:

Povedák, István. 2020b. ‘Give me some beautiful holy images that are colorful, play music, and flash!’ The Roma Pilgrimage to Csatka. Journal of Global Catholicism 4 (2): 36–67. DOI:

Povedák, István. 2021a. ‘Come, look and hear how the past has been and the future will be!’ Festival Culture and Neo-Nationalism in Hungary. In Festival Cultures. Mapping New Fields in the Arts and Social Sciences, eds. Maria Nita and Jeremy H. Kidwell. Springer. [in print]

Povedák, István. 2021b. The Artistic and Material Dimension of UFO Culture. Traditiones 50 (3). DOI:

Povedák, Kinga. 2017. Hillsongization, Religious Ecumenism, and Uniformity: A Hungarian Case Study. In The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon The Waters, eds. Tania Riches and Thomas Wagner, 181–198. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.DOI:

Povedák, Kinga. 2020. Rockin’ the Church: Vernacular Catholic Musical Practices. Journal of Global Catholicism 4 (1): 42–63. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 1995. Vernacular Religion and the Search for Method in Religious Folklife. Western Folklore 54 (1): 37–56. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 1999. The Vernacular Religious Character of American Television: Continuity and Change in Media Representations of the Supernatural. In Folk Religion: Continuity and Change, eds. Anders Gustavsson and Maria Santa Vieira Montez, 311–322. Lisbon: Universidade Nova de Lisboa & Uppsala: Etnologiska Institutionen, Uppsala Universitet.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2001. What is Vernacular Catholicism? The “Dignity” Example. Acta Ethnographica Hungarica 46 (1–2): 51–58. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2002. Textures of a Religious Life: The Vernacular Religious Art of Sister Ann Ameen. In Art and the Religious Impulse, Bucknell Review, ed. Michael Eric Mazur, 62–83. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2004. Bringing Perfection in these Different Places: Father Divine’s Vernacular Architecture of Intention. Folklore 115: 13–26. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2007. The Vow As Visual Feast: Honoring St. Joseph in Sicilian American Homes. Traditiones 36 (1): 113–125. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2009. “For What I Have Done and What I Have Failed to Do”: Vernacular Catholicism and The West Wing. In Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, eds. Diane Winston, 99–123. Waco: Baylor University Press.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2012a. Afterword – Manifestations of the Religious Vernacular: Ambiguity, Power and Creativity. In Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. Sheffield, eds. Marion Bowman and Ülo Valk, 382–394. Bristol, Equinox Publishing.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2012b. Catholiciana Unmoored: Catholic Ex-Votos in Catholic Tradition and their Commercialization as Religious Commodities. In Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy. The Collection of Leonard Norman Primiano, eds. Rosangela Briscese and Joseph Sciorra, 9–37. New York, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2014. ‘And as we dine. We sing and praise God’: Mother Divine’s Theology of Food. In Religion, Food, and Eating in North America, eds. Ben Zeller, Marie Dallam and Nora Rubel, 42–67. Columbia, Columbia University Press.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2015. Kitsch. In The Routledge Companion to Religion and Popular Culture, eds. Eric Michael Mazur and John C. Lyden, 281–312. London: Routledge.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2016a. Collecting Vernacular Religious Material Culture. Material Religion 12 (3): 381–383. DOI:

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2016b. Artifacts of Belief: Holy Cards in Roman Catholic Culture. In Experiencing Religion: New Approaches to Personal Religiosity, eds. Clara Saraiva et al., 119–142. Berlin: Lit-Verlag.

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2022a. “The Upper Room”: Domestic Space, Vernacular Religion, and the Observant University Catholic. In Vernacular Knowledge: Contesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs, eds. Ülo Valk and Marion Bowman. Sheffield: Equinox. [in print]

Primiano, Leonard Norman. 2022b. Vernacular Religion: Collected Essays of Leonard Norman Primiano, eds. Deborah Dash Moore. New York: New York University Press.

Valk, Ülo. 2019. Shrines, Stones, and Memories: the Entangled Storyworld of a Goddess Temple in Assam. In South Asian Folklore in Transition: Crafting New Horizons, eds. Frank J. Korom and Leah K. Lowthorp, 105–119. London, New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Wojcik, Daniel. 2021. UFO Mythologies: Extraterrestrial Cosmology and Intergalactic Eschatology. Traditiones 50 (3). DOI:




How to Cite

Bowman, M. (2022). Vernacular Religion and Contemporary Spiritualities. Tribute to Leonard Norman Primiano (1957-2021). Traditiones, 50(3), 7–14.