The Invention of Religion in Japan

In this interview, Jason Josephson discusses the Japanese appropriation of the modern category of “religion.” He first describes how Shinto is typically represented in EuroAmerican religious studies courses. He then describes the various actors and processes (both European and native) that were involved in the Japanese appropriation of the modern category of religion, paying particular attention to the material and economic interests embedded in these larger processes.

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  • Of Demon Kings and Protestant Yakṣas

    The disappointment of Western pacifists here is not unlike the reaction of early Orientalists who, disappointed by the ritualism and deity-worship they found in living Buddhist cultures, described a degenerate Buddhism.

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    Sri Lankan Buddhism and Colonialism

    Usually one of the first associations upon hearing ‘Sri Lankan Buddhism’ is either the religious violence that swept across the island in the recent decades, or the Pali canon and Theravada Buddhism. In this interview with Anja Pogacnik, Dr. Stephen Berkwitz doesn’t really speak of either. Instead, the interview focuses on Sri Lankan colonial past and how the presence of European rulers and Christian missionaries affected local Buddhism.

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    Religious Providence for Religious Action: Investigating Roger Allen Laporte’s French-Canadian Catholic Heritage

    I wish to deepen the discussion by investigating the discursive link and importance Catholic Ultramontanism played in constructing French-Canadian/Franco-American identity on both sides of the Canada/US border.

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    Self-immolation as a religious act: The contested martyrdom of Roger Allen LaPorte, Catholic Worker

    In this interview, postdoctoral researcher of U.S. Catholicism, Francesca Cadeddu, shares some of her reflections on Roger Allen LaPorte, whose contested martyrdom by self-immolation is the topic of her present postdoctoral project.

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    Workshop: ‘What is religious belief?’ report

    PhD candidate Hans Van Eyghen reporting for The Religious Studies Project:

    The question ‘What is religious belief?’ has a long history and with no definitive answer to date. The aim of this one day workshop was to shed new light on the question by combining three perspectives on the matter: cognitive

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    Religion Without Culture is No Religion at All

    If content can explain the tendency to hold supernatural beliefs, but cultural learning is required to create religions, then we can make specific predictions about how these things should vary around the world.

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    “Practice What You Preach”: CREDs and CRUDs

    Religious actions speak louder than words. Dr. Jonathan Lanman on credibility enhancing displays (CREDs), and the role that such public displays of commitment play in the acquisition of both belief and nonbelief.

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    Sufism is a paradox?

    While the tendency to think of Sufism as a kind of individualized or more private form of Islam is quite prevalent, the representation of Sufism as a form of ‘peaceful Islam’ or as a ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of radical Islam is equally pervasive.

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    Sufism

    In this interview, Milad Milani discusses the basic orientation and history of Sufi thought. He also speaks about the diverse national variations of Sufism, particularly with respect to Iranian (or “Persianate”) Sufism. The interview concludes with a few critical remarks on the questionable appropriation of Sufism in contemporary Western discourses on religion.

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    Keeping the Bar Steady: The Complexities of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion

    While evolution does provide a biologically rooted framework that affords cognitive psychologists the theoretical rationale for extrapolating that all cultures utilize the same mental facilities (albeit quite differently depending on their environment), in order to explain religion in all its variants both past and present, cognitive psychology is both necessary and sufficient.

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    Psychology of Religion at Its Best…and Less Best

    In this hard-hitting report, Alex Uzdavines reflects on the highs and lows of his recent experience at the American Psychological Association Division 36 Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2015 Mid-Year Conference hosted by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, United States on March 20th and 21st 2015.

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    Religion as an Evolutionary Organism

    In this interview, David Sloan Wilson gives an overview of his research studying religious groups as adaptive units, specifically discussing his work directing the Binghamton Religion and Spirituality Project. He introduces the field of evolutionary religious studies, explaining that ‘all aspects of humanity can be understood, in some sense, as a product of evolution’.

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    “The Last Word…?” A Response to Bruce Lincoln’s interview on “The Critical Study of Religion”

    Can one really engage in a “serious conversation” in which one always has “the last word”? Or is that perhaps a “misrecognized monologue,” to use Lincoln’s terms? And what are the potential political implications of the assertion that scholars “have the last word”?

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    The Critical Study of Religion

    Professor Bruce Lincoln from the University of Chicago discusses a variety of topics including werewolves, critical theory, pedagogy, and self-imposed estrangement from the academic study of religion.

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