Troubling Essentialism: Studying Religion and Feminism

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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.In her interview with the Religious Studies Project, Dawn Llewellyn gives a succinct and well-considered account of the ‘tricky relationship’ between feminism and religion. Tackling two such wide-ranging topics, their various definitions,

The Catholic Underground: Lithuanian Catholicism Under the Soviet Union

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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.Professor of Sociology at Vytautas Magnus University, in Lithuania has changed during the counter-reformation, the First Republic after WWI, the Soviet Union, and finally after the Second Independence. According to Dr. Alisauskiene, the Roman Catholic Church heavily dominated pre-Soviet Union Lithuania.
Amanda
Catholicism
majority religion
Milda Alisauskiene
minority religions
Post-Soviet
Religion in Lithuania
Ryan
Sociology of Religion
Soviet Union

From Secularisation to Religious Diversity: Understanding Religion in Europe

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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).In her interview with the RSP, Grace Davie provides a survey of the history of the discipline of sociology in the study of religion, and considers the manner in which it has developed in British universities, in contrast to European models.
Charles Cameron
comparison
grace davie
Jennifer Griggs
la laicite
secularisation
Sociology of Religion

Whither the Sociology of Religion?

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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.Grace Davie’s discussion of the sociology of religion provides a comprehensive overview of the field. She offers insights garnered from her own eminent career within British sociology of religion and speaks ...
American Academy of Religion
American Sociological Association
British Sociological Association
classical theorists
Donald Trump and the evangelical vote
grace davie
Jonathan Z. Smith
pedagogy
Rebekka King
Sociology of Religion

Theoretical Veganism: Practicing Religious Studies without Religion

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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. Aside from being an oxymoron, the thought of “meatless meatballs” can elicit strong reactions, whether of disgust, confusion, or hunger. Such products are capable of breeding suspicion, whether in regards to their taste, their origins, or their status as “food.” After all, what exactly is meatless meat?
academic study of religion
Daniel Dubuisson
deconstruction
Definition
Karhun Kansa
Kevin Schilbrack
Neil George
teemu taira

The Deconstruction of Religion: So What?

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Scholars who deconstruct without re-construction undertake a feeble version of deconstruction that undermines itself (often without realising it).In his interview with the RSP, Teemu Taira refers to his work as in some sense a response to Kevin Schilbrack’s 2013 paper, “After We Deconstruct ‘Religion’, Then What?” However, I don’t find it speaking to the concerns of Schilbrack’s paper. This, is not to question the excellence of Taira’s work, scholarship, or methodology, all of which I am deeply impressed with.
deconstruction
Definition
Kevin Schilbrack
Paul Hedges
reconstruction
teemu taira

Timeless Yoga and Sinister Yogis: David Gordon White’s Brief History of Yoga

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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.
David Gordon White
new age
Yoga

Futures Found Wanting

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Figured as discursive objects, both the witch and the UFO exceeded (or were thought to exceed) the epistemic capacities of contemporary knowledge, necessitating the creation of new forms of knowing.In her recent book on confession and witchcraft in early modern France, French Studies scholar Virginia Krause argues that early modern demonology was a ‘science of the night'.The activities of the Devil, and of the witches who served him, occurred in the darkest hours,...
Conspiracy Theories
David Robertson
Demonology
epistemic capital
other
S. Jonathon O'Donnell
Sean McCloud
theodicy
Witchcraft

Time Travel and Fictions of Science

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Despite his best scholarly efforts, Tylor’s Anahuac is “fiction” in the same way that Europeans have drawn on their vast reservoir of myths, legends, and stories of Amazons and the Lost Tribes of Israel in their mastery of the Americas. In 1856, Edward Burnett Tylor, of inscribed with “Huitzilopochtli the god of war, Teoyaomiqui his wife, and Mictlanteuctli the god of hell” all compiled into a gruesome symbol of Aztec religion. “There is little doubt," Tylor opined, “that this is the famous war-idol which stood on the great teocalliof Mexico,...
Anahuac
Aztec
Dr. Who
Rudy Busto
Science Fiction
Tylor

Ours Can Be To Reason Why

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While perspectives about conversion are Christian-centric, the idea of conversion itself is religion-centric.Lynn Davidman's recent RSP interview illustrates why her work is important, serious, and engaging. As I listened to the podcast, three ideas came to mind. First, I was delighted to hear Davidman describe much of the literature on conversion and deconversion as Christian-centric. While I think she could have made this point even more compellingly in the podcast, ...
Clifford Geertz
Cognitive Science
conversion
deconversion
Emile Durkheim
Explanation
gender
Lynn Davidman
Max Weber
Nonreligion
Ryan Cragun
Sociology of Religion

Modern & Lofton Illumine “Religion”

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Lofton points out that while many scholars recognize the shortcomings of Geertz’s work, we can’t stop reading it. Admittedly, it’s great fun to teach in undergrad courses. Why’s that? I think . . . one of the underlying directives of Class 200 is to get that kind of conversation going, just that very notion of is there a relationship between description and explanation and what is it . . . The idea, I think underlying Class 200, is this notion that the way in which you write informs your argument, ...
Class 200
Clifford Geertz
John Modern
Kathryn Lofton
Molly Bassett
talal asad

Historicism, Reflexivity, and Our Discourses on Theory: Or, Why Lacan Is Not a Garnish

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Theory, from this perspective, is not something that’s added to a world that is already fully present to us; on the contrary, the things are after-effects of the theory. In this interview, Adam Miller speaks with Kathryn Lofton and John Modern about their new book series with University of Chicago Press, titled Class 200: New Studies in Religion.
craig martin
Critical theory
Jacques Lacan
John Modern
Kathryn Lofton
NAASR
naive empiricism
Post-structuralism

Can Religion Explain the KKK?

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While Baker’s interventions regarding the need to take seriously the “religion” of the Klan is noted, I question whether she does not herself reinforce problematic epistemological and methodological assumptions about “religion.” Describing the story of the Ku Klux Klan as “lovely”, as Kelly Baker does in her interview with David Lewis, is initially perplexing. Fortunately, Baker goes on to clarify what she intends, ...
American religious history
colonialism
Kelly Baker
Kolby Knight
Ku Klux Klan
Race

The Interplay of Religion and Popular Culture in Contemporary America

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In exploring the interstices running along the contours of religion and popular culture researchers must not neglect the embodiment and praxis of religious expression in popular culture and vice-versa. There was a time when the realms of popular culture and religion did not meet — at least in an academic or analytic sense. The space betwixt, between, around, and interpenetrating each was relatively unexplored. Into that gap came God in the Details:
alternative spirituality
American religion
Bruce Springsteen
Clifford Geertz
Embodiment
House of Cards
Kate McCarthy
Ken Chitwood
non-institutional religion
Popular Culture
Space

Making Space for the Better Book

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There is the perception that critical scholarship will not get a fair hearing, and there is a perception that theological or confessional scholarship is incapable of being fair. A number of years ago I attended a keynote lecture during a national religious studies conference at which an esteemed professor declared in exasperated tones; “What Have They Done To My Buddhism?!” The tension in the room, rising during his overtly confessional presentation, reached a silent crescendo at this exclamation. Even I, as a (very) junior scholar of religion, ...
Aaron Hughes
academic study of religion
American Academy of Religion
Chris Heinhold
Islam
non-confessional study of religion
Reflexivity
responsible research practices
Theology