From Abstractions to Actions

Re-embodying the Religion and Conservation Nexus


  • Fabrizio Frascaroli University of Zurich
  • Thora Fjeldsted Erasmus University of Rotterdam and Lòm Research



Catholicism, environmental values, faith-based conservation, multilevel Governance, practice, religion and ecology, ritual, sacred natural sites, value-action gap


As the biodiversity crisis worsens, hopes rise that a substantial contribution to environmental care may come from the world’s religions. Such hopes largely rest on the expectation that the pro-environmental pronouncements of religious leaders, and their doctrinal underpinnings, will reach and affect a majority of believers. In this article, we discuss this argument, based on findings from fine-grained ethnographical and biological work among rural Catholic communities in Italy. We suggest that straightforward views of the link between religious doctrines and environmental care are problematic for three main reasons: postulating a deterministic link between values and behaviors that is disproven in reality; underplaying the inner heterogeneity of religions; and overlooking difficulties in value-transmission within religions. Accordingly, we suggest greater attention to concrete environmental outcomes, ritual, and the bodily dimension of religions, as a fundamental step toward a practice-oriented understanding of the nexus between religion and environment.


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How to Cite

Frascaroli, F., & Fjeldsted, T. (2018). From Abstractions to Actions: Re-embodying the Religion and Conservation Nexus. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 11(4), 511–534.



CLOSED - Special Issue: Religion, Science, and the Future