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, ...

About this episode

It is an 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? One scholar who has done just that is Johannes Quack in his book Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India, published by Oxford in 2012. In this podcast, we discuss Johannes’ ‘relational’ approach to ‘nonreligion,’ before moving to concrete examples from his work in India. What is a ‘relational approach’ to nonreligion? What does it achieve? What are some of the key characteristics of organized rationalism in India? What does all of this have to do with ‘religion’, ‘non-religion’, ‘atheism’ etc? What does this in-depth ethnographic work in this very particular context contribute to wider academic debates within the study of nonreligion, and religion more broadly? You can download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us . And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, magic wands, faux leather belts and more!

This episode has not been transcribed yet. 

Consider a donation to pay for the cost of editing a transcript?

Related Resources

Rebecca Rushdoony Once Condemned a Cat as a Heretic

Response

Rushdoony, as he emerges in McVicar’s narrative, does not seem inspired by his own vision of biblical families. Rebecca Rushdoony once condemned a cat as a heretic. The eldest child of R.J. Rushdoony, an American theologian dedicated to helping Christians learn to build God’s kingdom on earth, Rebecca was mad the stray cat wouldn’t stay put. So she pronounced the cat damned, much to her father’s amusement.
Timeless Yoga and Sinister Yogis: David Gordon White’s Brief History of Yoga

Response

The current proliferation of studies exploring the development of contemporary yoga can be seen as a direct challenge to popular perceptions of yoga as a timeless and unified practice which are reproduced (often as a marketing ploy) in non-academic contexts. Research on the history of yoga has steadily grown throughout the past two decades, focusing primarily on developments and transformations since the height of the colonial period in India.
“Unbelief” or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Imprecise Terminology

Response

Author's cat providing pictorial representation of “‘Unbelief’: comfortable enough for now, probably need to move away from it eventually” For the past few years, the term “unbelief” has made me academically disquieted in a way I’ve never quite been able to place.

Responses to this episode

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: Disenchanting India

This week, Ella Bock tells us why she thinks you should re-listen to our interview with Johannes Quack on Indian Rationalism, and a Relational Approach to Non-religion: "A great listen for better understanding the boundary between religion and non-religion, especially outside of a western context!"

In Praise of Polyvocality

Perhaps my greatest argument against ‘non-religion’ has been based on the notion that it stands as a relational umbrella... A few weeks back, I found myself engaged in a one-sided debate with a colleague friend over the use of the term ‘non-religion.’ As it was at the end of a two-day conference, it was one of those casual conversations wherein certain sophisticated aspects of the preceding academic discourse spill over into the informality of a chat over drinks.

Other EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY

Christian evangelical organisations in global anti-trafficking networks

Podcast

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a remarkable surge of interest among both academics and policy makers in the effects that religion has on international aid and development. Within this broad field, the work of ‘religious NGOs’ or ‘Faith-Based Organisations’ (FBOs) has garnered considerable attention.
The Sacred

Podcast

Religion and the Sacred, the Sacred and religion. Two words that seemingly go together like hand in glove but just how accurate is that? When we talk about religion it’s very hard not to talk about the Sacred but when we talk about the Sacred does this mean we have to talk about religion? What does the Sacred even mean? This introduction began with “Sacred” but it may well be more appropriate to write “sacred”.
Discourse! June 2020

Podcast

Amid mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism ongoing in the United States, RSP contributor Ben Marcus speaks with Andre Willis and Carleigh Beriont about race and religion in this month's Discourse episode.
Religious Education

Podcast

For those of us in Britain the question of Religious Education (notionally 'Religious Studies at primary and secondary school level') has become an ever-increasing issue of concern. Just what exactly should RE entail? Should RE be teaching about religion or teaching religion? Who, even, should be RE teachers? In this interview, ...
‘Modelling Religion’ and the Integration of the Sciences and the Humanities in the Bio-cultural Study of Religion

Podcast

Following his Albert Moore Memorial Lecture at Otago University, celebrating 50 years of Religious Studies at Otago, Professor Wesley Wildman talks to Thomas White regarding the integration of the sciences and the humanities in his bio-cultural approach to the study of religion.
Lived Religion: Part 2

Podcast

In Part 2 of this week's interview, Meredith McGuire continues to speak to Martin about the multiple issues of power, normativity and embodiment of religious life that can be observed through her concept of Lived Religion. Meredith McGuire shows how Lived Religion, a concept she has coined,...

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The views expressed in podcasts, features and responses are the views of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Religious Studies Project or our sponsors. The Religious Studies Project is produced by the Religious Studies Project Association (SCIO), a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (charity number SC047750).