The Spiritual Life of Dolls: Religious Technologies from Adam to Barbie to AI


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies


"The spiritual life of dolls" outlines a human history of engagement with dolls, providing a religious historical framework to think through our cyborgian futures by showing how we have always been cyborgs, always merging with our technologies. While not universal, one finds a broad cross-cultural and historically pervasive interest in figures (including puppets, figurines, automatons, robots) that look and often behave like humans, as humans invest them with "spirit." Dolls are ultimately a tool, a technology that re-creates humans. They socialize humans, make them lust, help them pray, become their friends, help them grieve and die. They are the religious tool extraordinaire, and by tracing their history, this book project traces an uncanny history of human life and practice.