Entries by David Robertson

The first meeting of the RSP Trustees

This afternoon we had the first meeting of the Trustees of the Religious Studies Project Association (that’s the name of the Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation that produces the RSP). Besides Chris Cotter and myself (David Robertson), the Trustees are Carole Cusack (Sydney), Russell McCutcheon (Alabama) and Dominic Corrywright (Oxford Brooks), so getting them all in the same virtual room was quite a feat.

Patreon

The Religious Studies Project have launched a Patreon campaign – Chris and David explain why. Be part of the solution, not the problem…

Conference Report: The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association, 2014

On October 31 – November 2, the Marriot Hotel of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana hosted the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) in conjuncture with the Religious Research Association (RRA). The major theme for SSSR was “Building Bridges” and beautifully illustrated on the program cover by Kenan Sevinc. From my understanding, this was the first year that the program was in colour.

Welcome to the Theological Dispatch!

BREAKING NEWS: Today, the RSP is “born again” – as the Theological Dispatch.
Due to a huge donation from the Templeton Foundation, we are now going in a slightly different direction. As of today, our mandate is to investigate how religion and spirituality brings positive change to society, and helps make us all better citizens of God’s world.

“I Made It All Up and It Came True Anyway”

I asked him about this quote from J. Z. Smith; he replied that he was correct, religion is a constructed category, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t also real. So Latour takes the constructionist agenda of the post-structuralists a step further. Our categories are indeed invented, but not “merely” so, for they are also real. They become real through our wielding of them.
The story goes that somewhere on the West Coast of Africa, sometime in the 17th Century,

CESNUR 2013 Conference Report

Not long after I arrived home following the 2013 CESNUR conference, having spent some forty-odd hours door-to-door flying from Sweden to Australia, I tweeted “Great conference, beautiful country, lovely people”. The lengthy transit (dare I say ‘pilgrimage’) usually involved in making one’s way to CESNUR from the Antipodes is never too much to bear, for despite being small the conference is always one filled with enthusiastic colleagues …

A Personal Diary from the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Chicago 2012

” It is truly lovely to have met so many nice people when I arrived at the conference knowing virtually no one. My planned early night is yet again railroaded by the “couple” of “quick” emails I had to send, and I crawl into bed just before midnight. Despite the exhaustion, it is difficult to sleep on account of the whirring mind induced by the weekend’s conversations.”

Why should we keep paying attention to Otto?

“Is it necessary, helpful even, to only study religion if you are not religious? Does the secular scholar of, say Hinduism, stand to be a better scholar than another with the same training but who happens to personally be Hindu? Does having a personal involvement in the group that one is studying assist one in understanding Otto’s numinous?”
In this interview with Robert Orsi, Religious Studies Professor from Northwestern University, Jonathon and Dr. Orsi discuss the seemingly evergreen writer Rudolf Otto.

Secular Sacreds and the Sacred Secular

“Reframing understandings of (non)religion according to types of sacred which are independent of religious categories, allows (non)religious identities to be conceptualised to acknowledge the simultaneous intersection of multiple subjectively compatible (yet seemingly contradictory) religious and/or nonreligious identities, and paves the way for scholars to take religion seriously whilst avoiding unwarranted reverence.”

Marx, Spiritualism and Power

I begin this response to Titus Hjelm’s discussion of the continuing relevance of Marxist approaches to the study of religion by noting his assertion that Marx is underemployed as a source of ideas, partly because he has generally been regarded as critical of religion. A number of additional reasons are also relevant. One difficulty for Marxist scholars has been the extent to which the predictive power of Marxist models was brought into question as the twentieth century unfolded.

Academic Positions: The Application and Interview

“My intentions rather are to assist applicants to understand a little better what all is involved in evaluating applicants for a position, and perhaps to help applicants prepare themselves better to participate in the application and interview processes.”
In what follows I have attempted to give some basic information and advice intended for the person who has recently finished graduate work and is seeking…

Theses on Professionalization

Too many graduate students seem unprepared for what awaits them once they complete their dissertations. Sadly, in many cases their professors seem not to have considered it to be their responsibility to provide them with some of the tools necessary for navigating the job market and beginning their careers. It is into this gap that the following twenty-one thesis statements–which have benefited …

How to Give an Academic Talk

“Stage fright is something everybody has to handle in their own way. But academic culture is something we can deliberately change. This short essay is an attempt to begin that process with some pointers for effective public speaking.”
On behalf of bored audiences everywhere, I wrote this essay to promote good public speaking. It is being circulated widely on the Internet. As a result, …

The Academic Résumé: Some Recommendations

“applicants should realize that in today’s situation most institutions advertising a position will receive many more applications than those charged with evaluation of them want to handle. So, the person(s) going through the applications will initially look for reasons to set aside as many applications as possible, so that a smaller, manageable lot is left for more detailed consideration.”