colonialism

How “Woke” Is Your Textbook?: Introducing Religious Studies in the 2020s

Podcast
RSP co-founder Chris Cotter and Paul Hedges discuss the construction of introductory textbooks in the contemporary world, including issues of positionality, criticality, and decolonization.

The World Religions Paradigm: An RSP Remix

Podcast
This RSP Remix answers the question "What is the world religions paradigm?" with an abridged version of our 2013 interview with James Cox.

Epistemological Sacrifice Zones and the Decolonization of Religion

Response
Decolonization requires changing the politics of academia's knowledge production, argues Tyler M. Tully in this response to Episode 337: Decolonizing the Study of Religion with Malory Nye.

Decolonizing the Study of Religion

Podcast
How can the field address its whiteness and the legacy of its colonial origins? In this final episode of our 2019/2020 season Christopher Cotter speaks with Malory Nye about decolonizing Religious Studies.

The Gods of Indian Country

Podcast
Dr. Jennifer Graber's new book, "The Gods of Indian Country," grew out of lingering questions from her first book, a study of American Quakers and prisons. Graber learned that Quakers served as missionaries to Native American reservations in the West. She combined this interest in Quaker missions with her research into Native American captivity, so that the resulting narrative contrasts the motives of U.S. officials with Kiowa captives on an Oklahoma reservation.

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: The Intersections of Religion and Feminism

Response
In the second of our summer "Editors' Picks", Sammy Bishop flags up an important interview in which Dawn Llewellyn provides a great introduction to how feminism, religion, and the academic study of both, might (or indeed, might not) interact. Llewellyn also does an excellent job of flagging up how future work in these fields could become more productively interdisciplinary.

Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: Critiquing the Axial Age

Response
In the first of our summer "Editors' Picks", Chris Cotter flags up an important interview, in which Jack Tsonis "demonstrates how the term 'Axial Age' shares much in common with the notion of 'World Religions' in that both - to quote the subtitle to Tomoko Masuzawa's seminal work - preserve 'European universalism [...] in the language of pluralism'."

Against Invention: A richer history for ‘Hinduism’

Podcast
In this interview Associate Professor Will Sweetman talks to Thomas White about the idea that ‘Hinduism’ and many of the other terms we use to classify religions—including the term religion itself—are modern inventions, emerging out of nineteenth-century inter-cultural contact and European colonialism. Will argues against this critique, and to make his case he draws on historical sources that discuss ‘Hinduism’ both outside of the anglophone ...

Religion and Feminism

Podcast
'Religion' and 'Feminism' are two concepts that have a complex relationship in the popular imaginary. But what do academics mean by these two concepts? And how can we study their interrelationship? What can we say about 'religion and feminism', about the academic study of 'religion and feminism', ...

The “Axial Age”: Problematising Religious History in a Post-Colonial Setting

Podcast
In the latest #RSPpod from our friends in Australia, Dr Jack Tsonis gets fired up about the "Axial Age" as well as the difficulties the immediate post-PhD years. Karl Jaspers created the term “Axial Age” in 1949 after considering that the Bhagavad Gita, the Pali Canon, the Book of Isaiah,...

Can Religion Explain the KKK?

Response
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, ...

Encounters Between Buddhism and the West

Podcast
In this story is a continuation of "dissident orientalism", a conflict inherent within the colonial project wherein communities and personal trajectories become embedded within local religious contexts. A distinction made, both in Ireland and Burma, between native religion and the religion of the coloniser serves ...

Learning to Unlearn “Religion”: Jason Ānanda Josephson on the Invention of Religion in Japan

Response
Would it be better to say “Japanese Religions”? How about “religions of Japan”? Or, is “religion” even the best word to use to describe the Japanese traditions we’re studying? One of the first Religious Studies courses in which I enrolled was titled “Japanese Religion.” There were several themes running through the course, but the one that stuck with me as the most important was something the professor asked during the first meeting of the class:

The Invention of Religion in Japan

Podcast
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)...

Of Demon Kings and Protestant Yakṣas

Response
The disappointment of Western pacifists here is not unlike the reaction of early Orientalists who, disappointed by the ritualism and deity-worship they found in living Buddhist cultures, described a degenerate Buddhism. Let me begin by saying that this is not a critique, but an effort to contribute to a conversation about issues that have affected me personally as a scholar. In particular,...

Sri Lankan Buddhism and Colonialism

Podcast
Usually one of the first associations upon hearing ‘Sri Lankan Buddhism’ is either the religious violence that swept across the island in the recent decades, or the Pali canon and Theravada Buddhism. In this interview with Anja Pogacnik, Dr. Stephen Berkwitz doesn’t really speak of either.

African Christianity in the West

Podcast
‘Africa’. ‘Christianity’. ‘The West’. Three seemingly simple terms with clear referents. Three categories which – perhaps unsurprisingly, to regular listeners of the RSP – have been, and continue to be, associated with and invoked in support of myriad competing agendas, truth claims, ideologies, and more.

Concepts and Symbols, What Does It All Mean? Examining Immigrant Buddhists in Toronto

Response
"Concerning this worry surrounding the “dilution” of Buddhism that Barua identifies amongst the Buddhist immigrants in Toronto, some important questions arise for scholars of religion as a whole. Throughout the interview terms like “religion”, “faith”, “theology” are thrown about, ironically often in close proximity to discussions on how Buddhism is tied into not just the immigrants religious lives but also and perhaps most importantly their culture."

The World Religions Paradigm

Podcast
What counts as 'world religions' and how do we engage or promote this category in the academic study of religion. Join James Cox and David G. Robertson as they unpack this category.

Religion and Globalization

Podcast
What do we mean by globalization? What does this concept have to say to the study of religion? How have religions been agents in the globalization process? What theoretical and methodological issues arise when trying to answer such questions? All of these questions and more are tackled in an interview which touches on post-colonialism, secularization theory, theodicy, ...