In this week’s podcast we focus on religious demography and identification, survey tools used for religious demography in America, differences between religious identities and identifications, Americans’ shifting religious identifications, correlations between religion and social positions such as ethnicity or generational cohort, and correlations with various social and political issues.
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…
In his interview with Sidney Castillo, Dr. Luis Millones discusses some of the traditions that have formed the basis for his research, particularly in the northern coast, northern highlands and south highlands of Peru. He mentions that, with the impact of colonization, many of the indigenous beliefs were replaced or mixed (to some extent), in order to facilitate the installation of a status quo that incorporated many of the ethnic groups’s beliefs (among other, more ‘earthly’ institutions) that were present prior to the Spaniards’ arrival (Millones 2005).
That this conference took place at the National University of San Marcos was quite inspiring. This was the first university on the continent with a theology and arts faculty during the second half of the sixteenth century. Now, almost five hundred years later, Peruvian academics still have an interest in studying religion. However, our current perspectives and methodologies are far more diverse, and ever broadening. I remain optimistic that, in the near future, the academic study of religion in Peru will be as widespread and supported as other research areas.
It is unfortunate fact that in popular ‘Western’ imagination, the land of India is frequently orientalised, and naively conceptualized as ‘the quintessential land of religion, spirituality, and miracles.’ Although we would certainly not want to completely invert this stereotype by substituting one unnuanced and inaccurate construct for another, what happens when we take a closer look at a constituency who challenge this narrative, those who identify as ‘rationalists’ and engage in the criticism of ‘religion’ in India?
Speaking of religions as “eco-social constructions across multiple species, over multiple generations, and over multiple histories,” in this interview Whitney Bauman puts forward an ethics of understanding ourselves and others as planetary creatures, and understanding religion, science, and nature as non-foundational, non-substantive categories.
Listening to S. Brent Plate’s insights on the comparison between religion and film, and in particular on the role of planning in film, calls to mind the work of the filmmaker David Lynch.
Lynch is an adherent of Transcendental Meditation (TM) -a spiritual discipline and movement founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,
The interview explores S. Brent Plate’s personal research journey into this relatively young field, charting the history of the field in the process. Discussion then turns to the key terms involved… what are we meaning by “religion and film”? The relationship of established “world religions” to cinema? Religion/s on Film? Documentaries? Critiques and Parodies? Religions that exist only in Film? Films as Religious Experiences? Audience reactions to film? Films as myth? Films as a modern form of religion? And so on…
While I respect Masuwaza’s work on many levels, I mostly like it because she reminds me, again and again, to look at my tools of inquiry and see how my tools have shaped what I have found.
The Religious Studies Project, as an academic endeavour studying religion, is of course devoutly secular. In fact, we tend to take the connection between secularity and the academy completely for granted. But was this always the case? If not, how did it become so? And what does secular mean in this context?
Fedele emphasizes that an academic researcher must acknowledge the power issues present in a researcher-interviewee relationship: the academic doesn’t know everything, nor is the participant ignorant.
How can religious studies be informed by theories around gender and corporeality? How is gender expressed in today’s women’s spirituality and in religions that consider femininity to be a way to access power around sexuality and procreation? When it comes to the study of gender and religion, what are the major factors which can help understand how people embody the relationship between identity and religiosity? What is gender, exactly, and how does it manifest in religious traditions? How do we access it without assuming people’s identities on the basis of their “sex”?
This brings up and interrogates the basic distinction between Christianity and paganism, or rather the issue of identification of paganism by agents of Christianity.