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Six Scholars Discuss the Dissertation to First Book Process

Ever wonder what it’s like to complete the dissertation to first book process? How people find publishers? How much the publisher and editor influence the project? This podcast offers a roundtable discussion where six scholars discuss these questions and more. All six published some version of their dissertation, and they have unique insights and anecdotes to help explain and illumine this process.

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    The Religious Studies Project (RSP) is an international collaborative enterprise producing weekly podcasts with leading scholars on the social-scientific study of religion. Find out more…

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  • Framing, Observing, and Exhibiting Yoga: A Response to Bruce Sullivan

    One link between yogic practice and museums may come from viewing yogis, yoga teachers, and yoga promoters as performing work comparable to museums in the nearly century and a half history of modern yoga’s global spread. As museums curate, exhibit, frame, spotlight, and annotate their works to an anticipated audience, yoga has similarly been consciously displayed and promoted. Modern yoga’s history can be emplotted through the way it has exhibited itself.

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    Taking humour seriously: a response to Elisha McIntyre

    Using humour to understand in-group dynamics is especially important in this case since McIntyre’s case studies (LDS and evangelicals) are tight-knit communities that can see themselves as set apart from the rest of the world. As such, their in-group solidarity is particularly important for understanding how they construct their popular culture, which in turn supports their religious worlds. McIntyre makes an astute observation that in-group religious comedy is similar to popular music within these subcultures.

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    South American church-state relations

    Politics and social institutions are inseparable. Whether we take a look at small-scale or complex societies, we can find that politics is involved with economics, kinship with hierarchy, and of course, religion with the state. In this podcast, Sidney Castillo interviews professor Marco Huaco Palomino as he addresses the nuances of secularity in several Latin American countries.

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    Theologies That Cannot Be: A Response to the RSP Interview with Dr. Caroline Blyth

    Every discipline has both power and responsibility to contribute to the dismantling of the Patriarchy by declaring its valorization of avarice, egotism, and violence to be wrong. The particular duty and power of religious studies and theology, is to point out that that valorization is hypocritical—that the culture of Patriarchy is itself inimical to the values of the sacred social order from which it claims its authority and for which it claims to offer protection

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    Religion, Gender, and Gender Violence

    In this podcast Dr Caroline Blyth discusses her research on ‘theologies of rape’ and gender violence as enacted against males and masculinity, particularly within the Christian Church. Blyth also discusses her upcoming edited series Rape Culture, Gender Violence and Religion (edited with Dr Emily Colgan and Dr Katie Edwards).

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    Modern Yoga: A Response to Bruce Sullivan on Yoga in Museums

    The most evocative question raised in the podcast’s conversation is whether yoga and art have something in common—a sort of contemplative aspect—that can help us understand something fundamental about the nature of the sacred. Sullivan is certainly correct in pointing out that art is not meant to be contemplated for its own sake in pre-modern India any more than in pre-modern Europe. Such an approach, if we are to call it spiritual, only makes sense from a modern metaphysical perspective—specifically one geared at the various modes of finding deeper meaning within the self.

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    Yoga in Museums

    Yoga, in its modern form, should be of great interest to scholars of religion. While it certainly has roots in Vedic culture, the vast majority of Western practitioners do not see it as “religious”, but rather to do with health or “well-being”. Yoga’s status as religious has been in court, but nevertheless it continues to be practised in business, schools and, as Bruce Sullivan tells us, museums.

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    Against Freedom: A Response to Finbarr Curtis

    Finbarr Curtis’s recent book, The Production of American Religious Freedom (2016), defies easy categorization. Melding social theory, interpretive biography, revisionist intellectual history, literary analysis, film analysis, and the study of discourse and rhetoric, the book issues a much needed social constructionist inquiry into the largely taken-for-granted concept of “freedom” that

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    Religious Freedom in America: Theoretical Considerations

    Religious freedom is an inherently good thing, right? It’s a cherished idea that is easy for state governments to enact, no? In this interview, Finbarr Curtis questions both of these assertions. In The Production of American Religious Freedom, Curtis argues that religious freedom is a fluent and malleable concept that people deploy for various and competing reasons. Curtis uses several case studies to illustrate how the rhetoric of religious freedom has no coherent logic. This discussion has both legal and political implications, as it concludes that one of modernity’s most important concepts—religious freedom—is both unobtainable and undesirable.

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    Down the Rabbit Hole of Artificial Intelligence

    The things that make us uncomfortable about the interaction is what is sometimes referred to as “the uncanny valley.” Most often this applies to robots who are supposed to look human, but can’t quite pull it off. But it seems appropriate to this interaction as well. You reach the uncanny valley when you get close to “almost human” in looks or interactions.

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    AI and Religion: An Initial Conversation

    This roundtable, in association with the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, considers the impact of recent technological advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics on religion, religious conceptions of the world, and the human. It draws attention to how such advances push religion beyond how it has been commonly defined and considered.

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    A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Scientific Study of Religious Phenomena

    Analysing religious affiliation, phenomenon, and experience from a social science approach can reveal far more than a narrow theological or thealogical analysis. Theologians and thealogians appear uninterested in examining religion as an ‘object of interest’ perhaps believing that this perspective denigrates the underlying theological beliefs of the phenomenon being investigated. When, in truth, social science and theology can offer much more when combined into a multidisciplinary approach.

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    Study of Religion in Peru

    In this RSP interview, we are joined by professor Dorothea Ortmann from University of Rostock, to delve more into the foundations of the science of religion in Peru. She first states the major differences between the confessional studies or studies oriented to theological or pastoral matters, and the social scientific study of religious phenomena (Ortmann, 2004).

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    Science, Religion, and the Tyranny of Authenticity

    Fitting neatly within a complexity thesis tradition, Hameed employs what might be called normativizing nuance. By this I mean that by demonstrating the complexity/messiness of things “on the ground,” one version of a tradition can be delegitimized and/or another version of the tradition can be legitimized. In this sense, “Islam and science/evolution” has a great deal of resemblance to work on “Islam and violence.”

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