Religion and the 'Simple Life': Dugald Semple and translocal 'Life Reform' networks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter presents a case study of a Scottish exponent of the “simple life”, Dugald Semple (1884−1964), within early 20th-century networks of life reform or Lebens reform. It argues that the underlying thread in Semple’s “life reform” is a non-conformist, anticlerical religious individualism which incorporated Transcendentalism with a Tolstoyan and Gandhian pacifism. A case study of Semple’s career in dialogue with his English and continental interlocutors demonstrates the value of empirically based transnational enquiry at the level of individuals and networks for understanding the varied inflections of“life reform”, particularly the religious roots of the phenomenon. It also contributes to the historiography of important currents in “alternative religion” which fed the post-world war-two “new age”, “eco” and commune movements.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslocal Lives and Religion
Subtitle of host publicationConnections Between Asia and Europe in the Late Modern World
EditorsPhilippe Bornet
PublisherEquinox Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9781781795842
ISBN (Print)9781781795835
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameThe Study of Religion in a Global Context

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Dugald Semple
  • Lebenreform
  • pacifism
  • vegetarianism


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  • Book launch: Translocal Lives and Religion

    Philippe Bornet (Contributor), Steven Sutcliffe (Contributor), Brian Bocking (Contributor), Gwilym Bockerlegge (Contributor) & Maya Burger (Host)

    19 Apr 2021

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

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