What is the Future of Religious Studies?

/
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.
Armin Geertz
Bettina Schmidt
Carole Cusack
Christopher Cotter
David Robertson
Donald Wiebe
George Chryssides
Graham Harvey
Higher Education
James Cox
Markus Davidsen
Religious Studies

Substantive Religion and the Functionalist Sacred

/
Could the difficulties associated with the academic conceptualisation of "religion" be overcome by changing our focus instead to "the sacred"? Jay Demerath tells Chris why we should define religion substantively - that is, in terms of specific attributes like rituals, deities or dogmas - but the sacred in terms of the function it serves in the lives of individuals and cultures.
Christopher Cotter
jay demerath
sacralization
Sacred
Secularization
Sociology

The Changing Nature of Religion

/
In the 1960s, most sociologists consciously or unconsciously bought into idea of the 'death of god' - religion became effectively invisible to academia. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, a number of events - most notably the 'Satanic Verses' controversy - dramatically increased the 'visibility' of religion: it became a political problem. Now, in the 21st century, ...
change
Christopher Cotter
Exeter
grace davie
podcasts
religion
Sociology

Youth, Sexuality and Religion

/
The Religion, Youth and Sexuality: A Multi-faith Exploration project, based at the University of Nottingham, looked at 18 to 25 year-olds from a variety of faith backgrounds in order to understand attitudes and practices around sexuality and how this was negotiated in relation to religious traditions. Dr Sarah-Jane Page, one of the research fellows, ...
Christopher Cotter
gender
religion
Sarah-jane Page
Sexuality
UK
Youth

The Insider/Outsider Problem

/
The Insider/Outsider problem, relating to where scholars position themselves relating to the subject matter (whatever that may be), is one of the most perennial problems in the academic study of religion. Does one have to be a member of a community for your testimony about that community to be valid? Or does your membership of the community invalidate your objectivity?
anthropology
bias
Christopher Cotter
George Chryssides
insider/outsider
James Cox
Religious Studies

Animism

/
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.
animism
David Robertson
Graham Harvey
podcasts

The Relationship between Theology and Religious Studies

/
It is generally accepted - at least as far as most academics are concerned - that there is a distinct difference between religious studies and theology. As you shall see from this interview, however, things are much more complicated, and Professor Wiebe is particularly qualified to present his own take on the relationship between these two distinct disciplines.
Budapest
Christopher Cotter
Donald Wiebe
EASR
IAHR
NAASR
Religious Studies
Theology
Toronto

Invented Religions

/
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.
Carole Cusack
David Robertson
Discordianism
Invented Religions
podcasts
Scientology
transcript

Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Religion

/
The cognitive study of religion has quickly established itself as the paradigmatic methodology in the field today. It’s grounded in the concept that religiosity is natural because it is well adapted to the cognitive propensities developed during the evolution of our species. In this episode, Professor Armin Geertz tells Chris why it deserves its prominent profile, and how it is developing.
aarhus
Armin Geertz
Christopher Cotter
Cognition
IACSR
podcasts
religion
transcript

The Phenomenology of Religion

/
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.
Cognition
edinburgh
James Cox
Phenomenology
podcasts
transcript