David G. Robertson is Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University, co-founder of the Religious Studies Project, and co-editor of the journal Implicit Religion. His work applies critical theory to the study of alternative and emerging religions, and to "conspiracy theory" narratives. He is the author of UFOs, the New Age and Conspiracy Theories: Millennial Conspiracism (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Gnosticism and the History of Religions (Bloomsbury, 2021) and he is co-editor of After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies (Equinox, 2016) and the Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion (Brill, 2018).
For our last interview of 2021 (not to worry, the Mid-Year special is coming!), our co-founder David G. Robertson is back in the interview seat discussing his new book Gnosticism and the History of Religions with our co-editor Andie Alexander. Tune in to learn more about the 'strange charm of gnosticism'!
This RSP Remix answers the question "What is the world religions paradigm?" with an abridged version of our 2013 interview with James Cox.
Kicking off our first episode of Discourse!, RSP co-founder David Robertson, Ting Guo, and Jacob Barrett discuss the effects of classification in vaccination resistance, the Texas abortion ban, and the equation of the hijab with oppression. It's an exciting episode—be sure to tune in!
It's a bumper episode of Discourse this month, as four (count them, four!) RSP editors sit down to discuss how the media are talking about religion this month. First, Breann, David, and Dave introduce Andie as the RSP's new Managing Editor, before we discuss mass COVID cremations in India, a new synagogue at the site of a Nazi massacre in the Ukraine, protests over a new telescope in Hawaiʻi, and the scandal over the remains of the victims of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia. It's not our most lighthearted episode.
"You don't go to religious studies conferences with the title of the conference being 'The Problem with Religion,'" so why do we use that rhetoric to talk about conspiracy theories? Listen in to Andie Alexander's interview with RSP co-founder David G. Robertson to find out why!
10 years in the making! Celebrate our decade of scholarship with this special episode, "Thanks for listening!"
It's a COVID-style international spectacular for the ninth(!) annual RSP mid-season special. It's time to play... the Weakest Link! Join Andie Alexander, Jonathon O'Donnel, Titus Hjelm, Naomi Goldenberg, Sidney Castillo, Russell McCutcheon, Ray Radford, and Megan Goodwin as David Robertson fires questions at them and Chris Cotter remotely operates PowerPoint! Who will win the coveted fictional research funding?
What would a post-humanist model of religious and social worlds look like? Paul-Francois Tremlett tells David G. Robertson about a new approach which prioritises flow and transformation.
What is QAnon? In this August 2020 episode of Discourse!, David Robertson, Megan Goodwin, Savannah Finver and Jonathon O'Donnell discuss this conspiracy movement's links to American religious history and contemporary political discourse.
It's ideology, religion and conspiracy all the way in this month's Discourse! David G. Robertson is joined by Suzanne Owen and Craig Martin to discuss the Sun's mockery of pagans, problems with the Guardian's headline that people are returning to the Church, coronavirus conspiracies in India targetting Muslims, and how "idiology" (or one idiology, anyway) is pushing the religion out of religious studies.
In this week's episode, Timothy Fitzgerald speaks with David G. Robertson about why the history of the category “religion” should make us reconsider many other modern categories like politics, liberal, secular. Can these interrelated terms ever escape their origins in centuries of colonial epistemé?
Tim Fitzgerald - a founding figure in the critical study of religion - discusses his career up to his seminal volume, The Ideology of Religious Studies, published twenty years ago this year.
For our eighth(!) annual special, Only Sixty Seconds returns! This time, Chris Cotter is your host, as David G. Robertson returns to defend his 2018 crown against Bettina Schmidt, Douglas Davies and Theo Wildcroft. We may not have avoided repetition, but I do not hesitate in promising you no deviation from hilarity!
This panel, recorded at the EASR conference 2019 at the University of Tartu, is intended for PhD students and early career scholars who want to learn more about the publishing world.
David Robertson talks to Naomi Goldenberg in this episode of Are You My Data? recorded at Leibniz University in Hannover.
Vivian Asimos and Theodora Wildcroft took the opportunity to ask the delegates of BASR 2019 what inspired them about the conference theme, their opinion about major trends in the discipline, and how they were personally feeling about REF 2021.
Tisa Wenger tells David Robertson how local, national, and international regimes of religious freedom have produced and reproduced the category 'religion' and its others in the modern world.
This month on Discourse!, David Robertson, Suzanne Newcombe and Daniel Gorman, Jr. discuss some recent figures on religious change, and why the term 'cult' is making a comeback in the US
In this bumper episode of AYMD, Ann Taves talks to David Robertson about how she makes time to write, explanation versus interpretation, the metaphysics of mind, 'special things' in other disciplines, and what she has changed her mind about.
How do we deal with different cultural languages when teaching an Introduction to Buddhism course? Is cultural familiarity something to be broken immediately and displaced by new concepts and perspectives? Is it to be leveraged as devices for easy onboarding to other, more unfamiliar terms and ideas? Are they to be outright ignored? David Robertson is joined by Matthew Hayes
Naomi Goldenberg argues that 'religion', as a separate sphere from governance, has been projected onto the past for strategic purposes. How does viewing religions as "restive once-and-future governments" help us understand the functioning of this category in contemporary discourse?
It’s that time of year again where the RSP continues to combat the Christian-hegemony by bringing you an as-yet-undefined festive special! Hosted by Jonathan Tuckett and supported by (the invisible) Sammy Bishop, this year we play The Deadline, a quiz in which four aspiring academics must avoid their supervisor, quiz-master and champion of champions Carole Cusack, by answering some fiendishly difficult questions. If at any point though, Carole gets more answers correct than they do they will be eliminated from the game (and possibly asked to leave academia).
Scientology seems almost exclusively to be considered fair game (pun intended) for ridicule and criticism among New Religious Movements, and this may have much to tell us about the theoretical models scholars are using, and the institutional factors at play in the legitimisation of particular traditions in the academic and popular discourse. We discuss insider scholarship and the control of information; the Free Zone and the Church; strategic use of the category 'religion'; and how we see scholarship developing in the post-Hubbard era
Welcome to "Discourse", where our editors and guests take a critical look at how the category "religion" is being used in the media, the public sphere, and the academic field. This episode, David and Chris are joined by RSP Associate Editor Breann Fallon from Sydney, Australia, to discuss new Aussy Prime Minister ScoMo's Pentacostalism, an Abductee Democratic candidate in Miami, Scottish Nationalism as "religion-like", and more.
In the third of our editors' picks, David Robertson picks "the interview that I wished I had done. Reading Tim Fitzgerald’s The Ideology of Religious Studies (2000) as an undergrad was part of a seismic shift in my perspective, from an interest in religions to an interest in ‘religion’ [...]. This is a dense interview that rewards another listen."
In the last feature of the "semester" we're continuing with the video format. A couple of months ago the RSP attended the Open University's conference on Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspectives. I went about asking the pundits a couple of questions about Religion and its Publics. This week we have the second question (link for Part 1 in the sidebar).
To discuss 'spirituality', we are joined by Boaz Huss and Steven Sutcliffe. We discuss the genealogy of 'spirituality', and its contemporary significance, with particular reference to the New Age movement. The second half focuses on how spirituality may trouble the religion / secular distinction, and its implications for the critical study of religion.
A. Dave Lewis joins us again for a discussion of representations of Muslims in superhero comics. We talk about some positive representations, like Kamala Khan, Marvel's new Ms Marvel, and some less-than-positive portrayals, like Frank Millar's Holy Terror!
Ann Taves joins us to discuss her work arguing that we should study religions under the broader rubric of "worldviews" and "ways of life". This ambitious interdisciplinary project aims to place a micro-level analysis of individual worldviews into a broader evolutionary perspective.
In this interview, Owen Coggins joins us to talk about the use of religious (and sacrilegious) language and imagery in Drone Metal, a genre which stretches metal to low, slow, repetitive extremes. Drawing on the work of Michel de Certeau, he tells David Robertson that the prevalence of language relating to mysticism and "spiritual experience" may be due to the genre's focus on the physicality of the musical experience.
This week we've got something a little different for the Features segment. A couple of months ago the RSP attended the Open University's conference on Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspectives. We thought this would be a great opportunity to do another RSP video!
This conversation between Richard Irvine, Theodoros Kyriakides and David G. Robertson concerns magical thinking in the modern world. We may think that such ideas are confined to the fringes in the secular, post-Enlightenment world, but this is not necessarily the case. We talk about Weber's rationalisation and James Frazer's evolutionary model of modernity, and how they relate to ideas of belief, and magic.
A panel on the public impact and engagement of Religious Studies/Study of Religion/s led by committee members of the British Association for the Study of Religions, including Dr Stephen Gregg (Wolverhampton), Dr Christopher Cotter (Edinburgh), Dr Suzanne Owen (Leeds Trinity), Dr David Robertson (The Open University) and Dr Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh). Issues discussed include why RS continues to be a "muted voice" ...
This 2017 mid-year special's game "Scrape My Barrel"—which has absolutely no connection to the popular BBC gameshow "Call My Bluff"—features two teams of religious studies scholars pitted against each other in a battle of definitions, pedantry, creativity, deception, performance and ‘wit’. Tune in to find out whether the 'established' scholars (George Chryssides, Dawn Llewellyn, and Paul-François Tremlett) or the ‘up-and-coming’ baristas... sorry, RS scholars (Vivian Asimos, Liam Sutherland, and Amy Whitehead) win bragging rights this year!
In the complex and sometimes fraught relationship between New Religious Movements and the wider culture and state, why is it that children are so often a focus? Children are seen as needing special protection and therefore legitimising dramatic state intervention, but are also seen as of particular importance to the future of these movements, and in some more millennial groups, of the world itself.
We talk a lot about the World Relgions Paradigm at the Religious Studies Project, and this discussion looks more closely at one of the ancillary categories, Indigenous Religion. What exactly does this term refer to? Does it refer to specific religions (plural) or a kind of religion (singular)?
The Religious Studies Project have launched a Patreon campaign - Chris and David explain why. Be part of the solution, not the problem...
We may tend to think of millennialism as something typical of New Religious Movements and christian fundamentalism, but it has a long and interesting history in the Islamic world too. Rob Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies at Exeter, takes us through the history of Islamic millennialism, ...
What is angel spirituality, and who does it appeal to (hint: women)? How do they challenge preconceptions about the relationship between new spiritualities and Christianity, and raise interesting questions about gender, and vernacular religion in supposedly post-Christian Europe?
Are we right to connect millennialism and violence? Are groups like Heaven's Gate or the Branch Davidians typical, or rare exceptions, magnified out of proportion by the lens of the media - and scholarship? How do we account for the popularity of mllennialism outside of religious traditions, new, extreme or otherwise?
James Kapaló takes us inside the Eastern European secret police archives to show us how minority and new religious groups were portrayed. We explore the visual and material presence of religious minorities in the secret police archives in Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
Yoga, in its modern form, should be of great interest to scholars of religion. While it certainly has roots in Vedic culture, the vast majority of Western practitioners do not see it as "religious", but rather to do with health or "well-being". Yoga's status as religious has been in court, ...
"The Unverifiable Truth-claim", recorded at BASR 2016, hosted by David Robertson, and featuring Christopher Cotter, Katie Aston, Jonathan Tuckett, and Krittika Bhattacharjee! Plus a special appearance by RSP Managing Editor, Thomas Coleman!
In this longer-than-usual episode, Chris and David provide an interlinking narrative between Grace Davie, Joe Webster, Carole Cusack, Jonathan Jong, Paul-Francois Tremlett, Linda Woodhead and Kim Knott, reflecting on current or future developments in the sociology of religion which challenge the ubiquity of the secularization thesis, ...
What makes the sociology of religion and Religious Studies distinct from each other - if anything? Paul-Francois Tremlett, Titus Hjelm and David Robertson discuss what the two approaches have in common, and how they differ. Importantly, they consider how they might learn from each other.
What is the religious field like in a country where religion was banned for half of the 20th century? And how do you set up a Religious Studies department there? Under Communism, religion was suppressed in the formerly Catholic Eastern European country of Lithuania until the 1990s.
What is the sociology of religion? What are its particular concerns, dominant themes and defining methodologies? Where did it begin, and how has it evolved? This interview with Grace Davie, the first in our BSA SOCREL series, introduces this important and historically influential approach to the study of religion.
Area 51, Ancient Aliens, endemic child abuse at the BBC, and Reptilians,... This interview begins with David's own journey to this research field, before considering some basic questions such as "what is a conspiracy theory?"
Music is a big part of a new "mediapolois", part of a marketing matrix of people, places and industries. Today, music's meaning is more often part of a branded ecosystem, not limited to entertainment, but part of the experience of everyday life, including religion.
Fourteen contestants. One tetchy quizmaster. Three microphones. Numerous cases of wine. One glamorous assistant. Many bruised egos. A boisterous studio audience. A splash of irreverence. Dozens of questions. Four years of podcasts! A rapidly diminishing reservoir of academic credibility. And far, far too many in-jokes...
Surely we have moved past the idea of sinister cults brainwashing innocent victims? When it comes to the law, not so, Susan Palmer tells David G. Robertson.cult" and "sect" uncritically. Nevertheless, outside of academia, the language of "cults" continues to be used,...
What is a discursive approach to the study of religion? And how can it answer the crises of contemporary RS? Kocku von Stuckrad tells David Robertson in this week's RSP podcast. Discursive analysis of one kind or another is perhaps the most prominent methodology in the study of religion today.
The Religious Studies Project, as an academic endeavour studying religion, is of course devoutly secular. In fact, we tend to take the connection between secularity and the academy completely for granted. But was this always the case? If not, how did it become so? And what does secular mean in this context?
Jeffrey Kripal argues that we need to make room for the paranormal in the study of religion, and that consciousness should be at the forefront of our study.
What is social constructionism, and how is it important to the study of religion? Titus Hjelm explains how approaches which see social realities as built from discourses challenge how we think about ontology, epistemology and power.What is social constructionism, and how is it important to the study of religion? In this interview,
Comic books frequently include alternative or heterodox religious ideas, something underscored by the fact that two of the most acclaimed writers working today (Alan Moore and Grant Morrison) are practising magicians, and their work frequently contains references to their practises. At several points during his most recent interview with the Religious Studies Project, A. David Lewis alludes to the prominence of religious themes and images in comic books.
David Robertson speaks to two remarkable scholars, Carole Cusack and Steven Sutcliffe, on the significance of G. I. Gurdjieff to the study of religion. How do we approach figures like Gurdjieff whose legacies (and archives) are tightly controlled by their followers, and who often aren't seen as worthy of study by the academy and publishers?
Gardenstoun is a fishing village in the North-East of Scotland with a population of only 700 and six churches, four of which are branches of the Plymouth Brethren. Anthropology "at home" - within our own culture, rather than that of some exotic Other - undermines many of the assumptions that the study of religion is based upon,...
Here are some traditions that make this time of the year special. End-of-year listicles, the "War on Christmas" debate, animations of elves dancing with your family's heads pasted on... and of course, the RSP "Christmas" Special!
Wilson's 'apprenticeship' model not only gives us a way to conceptualise shamanism without recourse to sui generis discourse, but draws interesting parallels between indigenous cultures and the somewhat hidden world of heterodox religious practices in the West.
How can studying literature help us to study religion? And what the question even mean? In this interview, Alana Vincent, Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Chester, sets out some of the interesting intersections of these two fields.
Bettina Schmidt and David Wilson organised a series of panels at the 2014 BASR Conference in Milton Keynes on the topic of "Studying Non-Ordinary Realities", as part of the conference's "Cutting Edge" sub-theme. We managed to make time to get Bettina and David,...
Vernacular religion is a subject which fascinates us here at the RSP, because in keeping with our critical perspective, it challenges that idea that neat categorical boundaries may be drawn, and reminds us that when attempts are made to draw them, particular interests are being served.
Since the 1980s, the category of "Indigenous Religion" - or "Religions" - has become a staple feature of the terminology of the study of religion. But what do we mean when we use it? Is it necessarily tied to a particular geographical area? Or something which originates with a particular ethnic group,
Following from our interview on Monday with Ingvild Gilhus, today's podcast presents an "authors meet critics" session on the new edited volume by Ingvild Gilhus and Steven Sutcliffe, New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion. This was recorded at the University of Edinburgh at the launch of the book,
Angels seem always to break boundaries. Neither human nor god, male nor female, whether Christian or otherwise, angels seem always to have functioned as representatives of an unruly popular religious impulse which seems to sit just below the elite constructions with which the study of religion has traditionally concerned itself.
A while back a few of us gathered for what became the first of a 'successful' bout of roundtables conducted by a cadre of 'amazing people' with differing and 'unique' opinions. In that first ‘test’ for the ones that would follow, six of us gathered together to discuss the ‘future of religious studies.’
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,
What is the least well known book of the Bible? How many people in the UK listed their ‘religion’ as ‘Jedi Knight’ on the UK 2011 Census? What is Professor Jim Cox’s drink of choice? To find out, you need do nothing more than hit ‘Play’ and enjoy this forty minutes of pure, unadulterated, top quality Religious Studies entertainment.
Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) was the founder of structural anthropology, and is widely considered to be a foundational figure for modern anthropology. In books including Les Structures élémentaires de la parenté (1949, The Elementary Structures of Kinship), Tristes Tropiques (1955) and La Pensée sauvage (1962, The Savage Mind, 1966),...
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist. Initially a collaborator with Sigmund Freud, the two later split and Jung went on to found the Analytical Psychology school of psychotherapy. His approach focussed on what he called the process of individuation, ...
"History can be of tremendous value for a society that is looking for roots... and can sometimes be a bit uncritical in its search for roots. People want an identity and may be clutching at something that can be a bit confrontational, for example, Muslims looking for an identity rooted in current conflicts in the Middle East, rather than reflecting on what is quite a long-standing presence in British society and culture."
A very special episode of the podcast this week, to mark the beginning of our annual summer hiatus. For the past year, I (David) have kept a file where all the little amusing bits that didn't make it into the weekly episodes got put. Sometimes, this was because of restraints of time, but more often they were simply too 'scandalous'. I broadcast them here with that proviso.
What exactly does Material Religion bring to Religious Studies? Is it a potentially revolutionary phenomenon, or merely a passing fad? How might one apply the theoretical perspectives and methodologies developed in this growing field to some of the defining debates of our subject area? To discuss these issues, and reflect on the conference in general,...
“Belief” is a critical category in the study of religion. Indeed, for some scholars, it is the very essence of religion; as Clifford Geertz wrote, “To know, one must first believe.” Others, however, see the emphasis on belief as part of the Protestant bias in the development of the discipline, and have proposed various ways of avoiding talking about it at all. In this interview, ...
What would you think if I told you I had just come back from a holiday in Aya Napa? How about Santiago de Compostella or Glastonbury? How about Mecca? When does travel become pilgrimage, and what are the spiritual factors behind our holiday choices? In this week’s interview, Alex Norman and David Robertson discuss the history and modern relevance of journeys undertaken for spiritual benefit and transformation.
This is the second part of our interview with Professor Bruno Latour. This time, Latour and David Robertson discuss Latour’s recent works We Have Never Been Modern and On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods. Discussion moves from his critique of the distinction between the manufactured and “real”, and how this affects our models of belief.
Professor Bruno Latour is one of the most respected scholars in the social sciences today. In this first part, Latour and David Robertson discuss the broader relevance of his work for Religious Studies. They discuss actor-network theory, of which Latour was instrumental in developing. This includes some discussion of phenomenology and religious “essence”.
There can’t be many listeners who haven’t come into contact with the “World Religions” paradigm, either through the podcast or in their own undergraduate studies. Although, C. P. Tiele defined “World Religions” as those which had spread outside of their original cultural context, today the term is taken to mean the “Big Five”.
Can Steve Sutcliffe talk about “habitus” for a full 60 seconds without deviation, hesitation or repetition? How much does David Wilson know about “Postmodernism”? Mr David Robertson is your host (ably assisted by Mr Chris Cotter) for this special festive episode of the Religious Studies Pro Recorded live in Edinburgh on December 20th, 2012.
An 'emergency broadcast' from the Religious Studies Project... featuring George Chryssides, Bettina Schmidt, Teemu Taira, Beth Singler, Christopher Cotter, and David Robertson. What did the 2011 census data actually say, and how did the press report it? Why does it matter, and how can we use the data more constructively?
If statistics are to be believed, close to 100% of people in the UK know their astrological sun-sign. But what is astrology, exactly? Is it merely a “survival” from the medieval worldview, and what is its relationship to modernity and scientific thought? Most pertinently, does it have something profound to tell us about the nature of popular belief, or vernacular religion?
When we were contacted earlier this year by a couple of publishers asking if we’d be interested in reviewing books, we immediately thought “Yes – but how?” We’re not a journal, and didn’t want to do the traditional journal review, but we do love books, and especially talking about them. So when Chris suggested we could combine several reviews into a roundtable format, ...
Contemporary Druidry often presents itself as the native spirituality of the British Isles. However, there is not one form of Druidry and there are also significant numbers of Christian and atheist Druids as well as those that combine Druidry with Wiccan or other perspectives and practices. From international organisations to local ‘groves’, there are diverse types of Druid groups, ...
Why is it that millennialism - the belief in an immanent return of Christ to Earth – has had such a particular fascination for the American people? Millennial prophecy is often analysed with relation to violence and minority “cults”, but it is also infused into everyday discourse, in the rhetoric of politicians and the “rolling prophecy” of talk radio hosts. In this wide-ranging interview, ...
During her recent trip to the UK, the Religious Studies Project managed (with the promise of copious Pink Gin) to persuade Professor Carole Cusack to take part in a roundtable discussion. She suggested that we discuss how to build an academic career – advice which she has been generous with to many people in the past. That having been agreed, ...
In this, the penultimate Editors' Pick, David tells us why he chose his interview with Linda Woodhead on the Secularisation thesis as his favourite. The secularisation thesis – the idea that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialised world – was perhaps the central debate in the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century.
The second of our Editors' Picks "repodcasts", and this time Jonathan has chosen our interview with James Cox on the Phenomenology of Religion. It was, incidentally, also our very first podcast, originally broadcast on the 14th of January, 2012. Jonathan also wrote the response to this interview, entitled “What is Phenomenology?“.
This discussion brings together a number of aspiring academics to reflect on some of the issues brought up in a recent podcast in a friendly and hilarious manner. The question cuts to the core of what academics who study religion are doing… are they taking care of religion? Are they antagonising it? What should they be doing? And judging by the various long tangents through which discussion meanders, the question certainly sparked our interest.
Sociological research has followed two broad paradigms – qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative studies seek depth, typically based on interviews and observation with a relatively small pool of subjects. Quantitative studies, on the other hand, survey a larger pool – in some cases, such as the UK National Census, practically the entire population of a country – relying on mass methods such as questionnaires with a limited set of questions and responses.
Images of Jesus on a slice of toast; Koran verses in an aubergine; statues which cry blood; Angel Colour cards and Atlantean crystal therapies; popular religious expressions are everywhere. In this interview, Marion Bowman showcases her fascinating research into the ways in which religion permeates everyday life, paying particular attention to the manifestations at the famous Glastonbury Festival.
"The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is indeed the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man, state, society. This state and this society produce religion, ...
Secularism - the separation of religion and state - has been a central narrative in the European political sphere since the Enlightenment. But with renewed calls in some countries to affirm a Christian identity, and problems in accommodating some Muslim communities, is Western secularism under threat?
Discussions of religion in the media nowadays frequently revolve around issues of violence and social unrest. Religions and media can become collaborators in promoting peace and opening negotiations; at the same time the media can become host to extremist narratives which may incite violence. Does the media have a responsibility to promote peace?
In another roundtable gathering, conversation ranges from the strengths and weaknesses of such data, whether there is more to the social sciences than quantitative methods, and the place of the social sciences within a multi-disciplinary Religious Studies field. Can we trust social sciences when we study religion? Is a social scientific approach the future of religious studies?
Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species was published in 1859, and had an immediate and dramatic effect on religious narratives. Traditional religions were forced to adopt an evolutionary worldview, or to go on the offensive; whereas New Religious Movements like Wicca or New Age adopted an environmental concern as a central part of their belief. And possibly, ...
The secularisation thesis - the idea that traditional religions are in terminal decline in the industrialised world - was perhaps the central debate in the sociology of religion in the second half of the 20th century. Scholars such as Steve Bruce, Rodney Stark and Charles Taylor argued whether religion was becoming less important to individuals, or that only the authority of religions in the public sphere was declining.
“If we want to discover what [wo]man amounts to, we can only find it in what [wo]men are: and what [wo]men are, above all other things, is various. It is in understanding that variousness – its range, its nature, its basis, and its implications – that we shall come to construct a concept of human nature that, more than a statistical shadow, and less than a primitivists dream, ...
After this week’s podcast, which involved eight scholars giving their views on the future of Religious Studies, there was really only one way we could create a suitably collective and varied response – six postgrads sitting around a table, accompanied by pink gin and our trusty dictaphone. Conversation ranges from the public perception of what Religious Studies does, ...
This week we decided to do something a bit different. Every time David and Chris have conducted an interview, they have been asking the interviewees an additional question: “What is the Future of Religious Studies?” The result is this highly stimulating compilation of differing perspectives and levels of optimism The result is this highly stimulating compilation of differing perspectives and levels of optimism on what has become one of the most hotly debated topics in the academic study of religion at the start of the second decade of the twenty-first century.
Animism is often taken as referring to worldviews in which spirits are to be found not only in humans, but potentially in animals, in plants, in mountains and even natural forces like the wind. It was of central importance in early anthropological conceptions of religion, most notably in the work of E. B. Tylor.
What is an "Invented Religion"? Why should scholars take these religions seriously? What makes these “inventions” different from the revelations in other religions? What happens when an author does not want their story to become a religious text? You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes.
Phenomenology is an important methodology in the study of religions, but can be inaccessible to the student. In this interview, James Cox outlines the phenomenology of religion to David in a clear, concise way, avoiding jargon and placing the methodology in the broader context of the history of European philosophy and comparative religion.