Play, Pain and Religion

Creating Gestalt through Kink Encounter

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Alison Robertson
  • Sheffield, UK: 
    Equinox Publishing
    , July
     222 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Play, Pain and Religion is the first consideration of the practices associated with BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) in the context of religious studies scholarship. The focus is an exploration of BDSM experience as it emerges from the complex interactions of kink activities and relationship.

Experiences categorised by BDSM practitioners as ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ are commonly described in the same terms, and given the same value, as descriptions of experiences which are not so categorised. Play, Pain and Religion examines practitioner accounts of BDSM experience alongside those practitioners’ personal identification with these terms. This book argues that the significance of a given experience is not located solely within any intrinsic quality ascribed to it but in subsequent constructions around the nature and meaning of the event. It examines some such constructions, moving away from absolute definitions of religion or religions to consider the religious as an active process of meaning-, world- and story-making. By using this ‘religioning’ framework, this book examines ways in which BDSM can potentially be used in such processes.

Play, Pain and Religion is a valuable resource for scholars of religion and of kink, for people interested in the complexities of ascribing meaning and value to human behaviour, and for kinksters interested in their own kink and why it is they do what they do.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Alison Robertson is a research associate with at the Open University. She is interested in the places where the lines commonly drawn between categories (such as ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’) become blurred or ambiguous and in how such blurring affects the ways people look at the world. Her research interests, other than kink, include lived and personal religion, edgework, and self-inflicted or positive experiences of pain.


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