Dr. James J. Preston

James J. Preston
  • Lecturer
  • Ph.D., The Hartford Seminary Foundation
    (Anthropology and Religion)

Contact Information:

Email: prestonj@sonoma.edu
Voicemail: 707.664.2461
Fax: 707.664.3920
Office: Stevenson 2084

Areas of Expertise:

Sociology of Religion, Symbolic Systems, Religious Movements, Comparative Religion, Globalism and Social Change, Sociology of Death, Future Studies

Academic Interests:

Dr. Preston is interested in the role of religion in the process of social change. Over the years he has conducted research on religious change in India and Europe. At present he continues research on Catholic devotions among Native American populations. Particularly central to his research is the intersection between globalization and a variety of religious movements, some of which are attempting to redefine the role of religion in society. Important issues of interest to Dr. Preston include the role religion plays in the formation of identity, the definition of ethic boundaries and the integration of life among different social groups. At present Dr. Preston is conducting research on the emergence of “sacred ecology” as a new religious movement.

Courses Offered:

  • SOCI 431: Sociology of Religion

Selected Publications:

Books & Monographs:

  • Preston, James. 1990. Miraculous Experience: A Study of Orissan Hinduism. Bhubaneswar, India: Mayur Publications.
  • Preston, James. 1985. Cult of the Goddess: Religious Change in a Hindu Temple. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.
  • Preston, James (ed). 1982. Mother Worship: Theme and Variations. Studies in Religion Series. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.
  • Misra, Bhabagrahi and James Preston (eds). 1978. Community, Self, and Identity: Styles of Communal Living in World Cultures. The Hague: Mouton Publishers.


  • Preston, James. 2009. “Master Symbols and Cultural Codes.” Pp. 35-57 in Critical Essays in Religion and Culture, edited by J. Morgan. Washington, DC: University Press of America.
  • Preston, James. 2009. “Two Urbanizing Orissan Temples” with James M. Freeman. Pp. 180-202 in Essays on Orissan Society by James M. Freeman. Jagatsingpur, India: Prafullapathagar Press.
  • Preston, James. 2002. “Preface.” Pp. vii-xi in Guru Devotion and the American Buddhist Experience by Daniel Capper. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • Preston, James. 1992. “Spiritual Magnetism: An Organizing Principle for the Study of Pilgrimage.” Pp. 31-46 in Sacred Journeys, edited by A. Morinis. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Preston, James. 1991. “The Trickster Unmasked: Anthropology and the Imagination.” Pp. 69-103 in Anthropological Poetics, edited by I. Brady. Savage, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Preston, James. 1991. “The Rediscovery of America: Pilgrimage in the Promised Land.” Pp. 15-26 in Pilgrimage in the United States, vol. 5, edited by G. Rinschede and S. Bhardwaj. Geographia Religionum. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
  • Preston, James. 1989. “Necessary Fictions: Healing Encounters with a North American Saint.” Literature and Medicine 8:42-62.
  • Preston, James. 1986. “Cosmic Implosion: Miraculous Experience in Hinduism.” Anima 12(2):144-160.
  • Preston, James. 1986. “Purification.” Pp. 91-100 in The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 12, edited by M. Eliade. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Preston, James. 1986. “Goddess Worship: an Overview.” Pp. 35-45 and 53-59 in The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 6, edited by M. Eliade. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Preston, James. 1984. “Empiricism and the Phenomenology of Religious Experience.” Mentalities 2(2):10-20.
  • Preston, James. 1983. “The Hindu Sacred Image: Its Creation and Destruction.” Anima 10(1):34-50.