Category Archives: Features

Given the interesting times in which we now live, the aspect this interview which most caught my attention concerned Francis’s comments regarding what we consider to be radical in the first place. Early in the interview, he briefly mentions the suffragettes as a group who held to a radical worldview, and fought to bring that worldview to reality. What we consider radical necessarily exists in opposition to what are considered as social norms.

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The deluge of responses to Teemu Taira’s recent RSP podcast show that “What is religion?” (and so implicitly, “What is secular?”)  remains the subject of ongoing debate that is unlikely to be resolved soon. As Donovan Schaefer explains in his interview with Christopher Cotter, however, there are considerable problems with the

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A minefield of professional and ethical issues is raised about how academics engage in such areas, and I won’t in the scope of this response pretend to give any answers. However, they are questions that need to be engaged and discussed not just by scholars working in such fields but, I suggest, more generally about how scholarship engages with and relates to the wider public sphere.

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Although Thompson notes that the secularization of the society is another reason for young people’s departure from churches, as a sociologist, I think we could add a few more points to the ones mentioned by Thompson.

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“What is my duty as somebody that studies human rights and religion? It is to bring these conversations to light, and lend my expertise to my elected officials. However, we cannot wait to have a seat at this table, but we must create it.”

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On the one hand, many scholars in religious studies rightfully state that much work has been done on religion and space, and, on the other hand, many anthropologists (including myself) still feel confident claiming that there is a dearth of work on this topic.

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A conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Ashlee Quosigk, a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland on the “Religious Pluralisation—A Challenge for Modern Societies” Conference, which had an important and timely mission to identify innovative research approaches as well as broad political and social scopes of action to address religious plurality.

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Religious identifications that are alternative to the major world religions are relatively new to census questionnaires. However, there is a stark difference between the available options on religious identity in the 2012 US Census than there are in the 2011 UK Census.

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For all our talk of religion being a human endeavor, we are unaccountably unaccustomed to thinking of it as one; we treat it as an abstract phenomenon that can be subjected to a passably “objective” study, like thermodynamics or photosynthesis.

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Secular feminist scholars would benefit from understanding ‘religion’ as a category without set boundaries, and from studying religion as ‘lived’ within fluid contexts.

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Instead of expressing a need for pluralism and to be recognized for the differences that their religion brings to the country, religious minorities push for the security of agreeing with the majority.

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It may be said that secularisation has made the West religiously illiterate, in that it struggles to accommodate those who do not espouse its secular values, particularly the separation of religion from the state (la laïcité).

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I cannot help but think that the field’s continued reliance on these classical thinkers works to limit the possibilities for analysis to those concerns raised by such figures even in the midst of increased calls for non-Western scholarly interlocutors and more diverse research sites.

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Perhaps it is time to stop treating the word “religion” as a tool of the scholar and to start treating it as the very object of study.

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Scholars who deconstruct without re-construction undertake a feeble version of deconstruction that undermines itself (often without realising it).

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