category formation

Podcast

On the Tantricization of Jain Ascetic Rituals

In the RSP’s first episode on Jainism, Dr. Ellen Gough joins Andie Alexander to discuss what she terms “tantricization,” a method for thinking about the process of establishing something as tantric.
Response

Telling Stories to Change the World

"How is a myth different from a story or narrative?" Susannah Crockford says the answer "shifts dramatically with different disciplinary definitions and assumptions." Read on to learn why this matters in her response to our episode with Tim Stacey on "Myth-Making, Environmentalism, and Non-Religion"
Podcast

Empty Signs in an Automatic Signalling System

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?
Response

Intellectual Journeys: Insights from Timothy Fitzgerald’s Work

Craig Martin writes of the lesson he learned from Timothy Fitzgerald's work: "Reading widely outside of religious studies allows us to integrate the knowledge from different fields or disciplines, making connections where theories or claims overlap, or noting where some approaches allow us to answer some of my questions in a more sophisticated way than other approaches."
Podcast

The Problem with ‘Religion’ (and related categories)

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.
Response

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: Shifting from religions to ‘religion’

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."
Response

What is ‘Buddhism in the West’?

I often see “Buddhism in the West” lumped in with new religious movements (NRMs) or more interestingly as sources of therapeutic influence for new styles of mental health treatment such as those seen in the field of Psychology. The compulsion to lump Buddhism with new religious movements may derive from a variety of influences. There appears to be much debate regarding what defines Buddhism in the West. Particularly, ...
Podcast

The Invention of Religion in Japan

In this interview, Jason Josephson discusses the Japanese appropriation of the modern category of "religion." He first describes how Shinto is typically represented in EuroAmerican religious studies courses. He then describes the various actors and processes (both European and native)...
Response

Dressing in Skins of Gods: New Approaches to Aztec Religion

Recent scholarship on Mesoamerican religions has been influenced by Mircea Eliade in a persistent fashion that has yet to be critically addressed. Molly Bassett is an enthusiastic advocate for studying Mesoamerican religion, a welcome new direction in Religious Studies. She credits the critical mentorship of David Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of Latin America Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. Although she does not mention this, his influence makes her an intellectual “granddaughter” of Mircea Eliade, ...
Response

“For a Secret Teaching, They Sure Do Write A Lot About It” – Is There a Gurdjieff Studies or only a Gurdjieff Industry?

While there is little disagreement as to the basic content of Gurdjieff’s spiritual teaching, there is currently no concrete proposal about the place of Gurdjieff within the broadly scientific study of religions. In David Robertson’s interview with Professor Carole Cusack of the University of Sydney and Steven Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Edinburgh, ...
Response

African, Christian… Fake? Explorations in Religious Authenticity

When Adogame rhetorically asks, “which kind of Christianity is authentic,” he implies that conversations on religious authenticity revolve around evaluating various strains of interpretation and practice. Or, put another way, that religious authenticity is a matter of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But is it? A highlight of Afe Adogame’s interview is his emphasis upon the brimming capacity for African Christianities, whether in Western or African settings,...
Podcast

The Uses of “Indigenous Religion”

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,
Podcast

Authors meet Critics: “New Age Spirituality”

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,