Discourse

Podcast

Discourse! June 2020

Amid mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism ongoing in the United States, RSP contributor Ben Marcus speaks with Andre Willis and Carleigh Beriont about race and religion in this month's Discourse episode.
Podcast

Near Death Experiences

In this episode, Christopher Cotter discusses Near Death Experiences with Jens Schlieter. How does one study reports of such experiences from a critical study of religion perspective? How are such reports related to modern societal developments such as ‘secularization’, individualization, or advances in medical science?
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Discourse! March 2020 with Theo Wildcroft, Dan Gorman, & Vivian Asimos

In this month's episode of Discourse!, Theo Wildcroft, Dan Gorman and special emergency guest Vivian Asimos discuss the US Supreme Court's relationship to Christianity, how the Independent dealt with criticism of a review of a book critical of paganism, and religion, abuse and the idea of a ‘witch hunt’ in yoga and academia. Oh and something called coronavirus?
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Which Voice Speaks?

Russell McCutcheon writes that the ongoing scholarly issues raised by critical theorists about the category of religion, reflected by McCutcheon, Timothy Fitzgerald and others, reflect the reality that "old habits die hard because they are situated within larger contexts that organize our sense of who we are in relation to others." This includes "discourses on religion" which "many scholars seem to have no choice but to continue to see as self-evident in their meaning and application"
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Discourse! February 2020 with Sierra Lawson and Sidney Castillo

Breann Fallon sits down with Sierra Lawson and Sidney Castillo to discuss the recent Peruvian Congress elections and the controversial new book "American Dirt."
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Artificial Intelligence and Religion

Chris Cotter and Beth Singler discuss the intersections between religion and Artificial Intelligence from slavery and pain to machines taking over religious functions and practices.
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Reflections on “Thinking with Jonathan Z. Smith”

Aaron Hughes, the keynote speaker for the #JZSatNTNU Conference in Trondheim, Norway, talks with the RSP about the legacy of Jonathan Z. Smith's work for the field of religious studies.
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The secularization of discourse in contemporary Latin American neoconservatism

In this week’s podcast, Professor Jerry Espinoza Rivera explains how Latin American conservatism became neoconservatism. Though Latin America is diverse, conservatism has been a widespread in the region shaping not only the political power plays of religious institutions but the people's daily experience of the world. Recently, however, neoconservatism has managed to develop a language of its own that blends science and philosophy with historical analysis of the contemporary world political landscape to become an significant religio-cultural force.
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Discourse #8 (June 2019)

This month on Discourse, Breann Fallon, Carole Cusack and Ray Radford approach the Australian news from a Religious Studies perspective. We cover the appeal of Cardinal George Pell, the drama around Israel Folau, and the impact of Christianity on the recent Australian federal election results.
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Discourse, Australia Edition

Breann Fallon, Carole Cusack and Ray Radford approach the Australian news from a Religious Studies perspective. We cover the appeal of Cardinal George Pell, the drama around Israel Folau, and the impact of Christianity on the recent Australian federal election results.
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Spatial Contestations and Conversions

Listeners to the Religious Studies Project, particularly in a European context, might be quite familiar with the sight of a former church building that has now turned derelict, or is being used for a purposes that perhaps it wasn’t intended for, or is being rejuvenated by another ‘religious’ community, another Christian community, or put to some other use. Chris is joined today by Daan Beekers to discuss spatial contestations and conversions, particularly looking at (former) church buildings in the Dutch context.
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The ‘secular’, the ‘religious’, and the ‘refugee’ in Germany

Ever since the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, the ‘refugee’ in Germany has been constructed in a variety of ways that are implicated in specific co-constitutive notions of the ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ that exert symbolic power by naturalizing certain notions of the religious and thereby the secular while excluding others and feeding back into the subject formation (or subjectivation) of people classified as ‘refugees’. In this process certain positions are produced as hegemonic while others are classified as not acceptable (e.g., “radical”, “not European” or “anti-humanist”).
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Patrons Special: RSP Discourse #1 (September 2018)

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.
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Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: The Co-Dependency of Religion and the Secular

In our fifth editors' pick, Marek Sullivan writes "Few questions are as meta-reflexive as the question ‘Is secularism a world religion?’ It’s now established that secularism and religion are co-constitutive terms: the history of the category ‘religion' is inseparable from the history of secularisation.
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Editors’ Picks, Summer 2018: Critiquing the Axial Age

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'."
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Stereotyping Religion: Critical Approaches to Pervasive Cliches

"Religions are belief systems", "Religions are intrinsically violent", "Religion is Bullshit"... these are just some of the pervasive cliches that we might hear from time to time in the English-speaking world about our central topic of discussion on the RSP, 'religion'.
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Sexual Ethics and Islam

Sexual ethics and Islam? How might one begin to study such a vast and "problematic" topic? What are some of the most prescient issues that recur in this contested field? And what is the broader significance of this discussion for Religious Studies in general?
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Is Secularism a World Religion?

Discussion starts with the entanglement of the concepts 'religion' and 'secularism', a brief discussion of the problems associated with the World Religions Paradigm, and then moves to the pedagogical merits and challenges of teaching 'secularism/s' within a World Religions model. We hope you enjoy this experiment!
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Researching Radicalisation

We discuss what we mean by 'radicalisation', and what its connections to socialisation, terrorism, and 'religion' might be. We take on the methodological question of how one might go about researching such a contested topic, and look specifically at some of Matthew's findings relating to the causes of radicalisation, and the neo-Durkheimian 'sacred'.
Response

Conference report: “Religious Pluralisation—A Challenge for Modern Societies”

A conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Ashlee Quosigk, a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland on the “Religious Pluralisation—A Challenge for Modern Societies” Conference, which had an important and timely mission to identify innovative research approaches as well as broad political and social scopes of action to address religious plurality.
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ISKCON And When New Religions Aren’t So New Anymore

A roundtable discussion considering the future of ISKCON and what happens when religions are no longer 'new'. As a follow-up to our interview with Kim Knott on ISKCON in Britain, this podcast is a roundtable discussion at the ISKCON 50 conference at Bath Spa University, 2016.
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Permutations of Secularism

In this interview, we first focus on the origins of the term “secularism,” the proliferation of its meanings, and the uses to which it is put in Anglo-American contexts. Then we discuss the uses of the terms secularism and the secular today, particularly using a specific case study from Joe’s research on American nonbeliever organizations.
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UFOs, Conspiracy Theories… and 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?"
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Discursive Approaches and the Crises of Religious Studies

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.
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Conference report: Rethinking Boundaries in the Study of Religion and Politics

"Oganessian proposed that if we were to view politics, or the public sphere, as a “marketplace of ideas,” that would allow us to move beyond the religious/secular binary that dominates western thought. In this “marketplace of ideas” framework, we should view all ideologies, concepts, or moralities as having a societal value, and politics as a kind of flea market for any given worldview to sell their perspective on how to govern the society. This framework frees religious thought of its unfair stereotype of only being suited for one’s private life, putting it on an even footing with all other worldviews."
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“The Study of Religions in Ireland: People, Places, Projects” – 2015 ISASR Conference Report

The Study of Religions in Ireland: People, Places, Projects” Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions (ISASR), Trinity College Dublin, May 11th 2015. Conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Dr. Eoin O’Mahony, Department of Geography, St Patrick’s College DCU
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“Societies in Transition: Progression or Regression?” – BSA Conference Report

“Societies in Transition: Progression or Regression?” British Sociological Association (BSA), University of Glasgow, 15-17 April 2015. Conference report for The Religious Studies Project by Rachel Hanemann. The British Sociological Association’s conference was held this year at the University of Glasgow. The conference theme was “Societies in Transition: Progression and Regression,...
Podcast

Sufism

In this interview, Milad Milani discusses the basic orientation and history of Sufi thought. He also speaks about the diverse national variations of Sufism, particularly with respect to Iranian (or “Persianate”) Sufism. The interview concludes with a few critical remarks on the questionable appropriation of Sufism in contemporary Western discourses on religion.
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The Critical Study of Religion

Professor Bruce Lincoln from the University of Chicago discusses a variety of topics including werewolves, critical theory, pedagogy, and self-imposed estrangement from the academic study of religion. In this interview, Professor Bruce Lincoln from the University of Chicago Divinity School discusses a variety of topics including werewolves, critical theory,
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But Mountains, Dammit!

Are we to believe those mountains weren’t here before humans came to name them?! Mountains, dammit! They’re real and they’re mind-independent! (It’s at this point that the radical constructionists ask, “can you say that without discourse?” and then the realists really go apoplectic.) Titus Hjelm’s book Social Constructionisms: Approaches to the Study of the Human World is a fantastic introduction to the topic of “social constructionism.”
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Outside the Panels: Comics and Context

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.
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Narrative and Reflexivity in the Study of Religion: A Roundtable Discussion (Video and Audio!)

The idea for this roundtable was that it would follow on directly from this week's interview on religion and literature, but expand the discussion to cover a variety of points relating to narrative, autobiography and (auto)ethnography in the study of religion. Featuring Dr Wendy Dossett, Prof. Elaine Graham, Dr Dawn Llewellyn, Ethan Quillen, and Dr Alana Vincent.
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The Invention of the Emerging Church Movement

It might help to consider what exactly terms like “The Emerging Church Movement” (ECM) and its terminological correlates (e.g., emerging, emergence, or emergent) intend to describe. Social scientists frequently employ contested categories or concepts (Beckford 2003, 13) in the description and analysis of ethnographic data. In other words, a conceptual gap often exists between emic self-description and etic secondary formulation. Informants don’t always acknowledge or accept scholarly terms and definitions.
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Before “Religion”: a History of a Modern Concept

Brent Nongbri talks to Jack Tsonis about his recent book, "Before Religion: a History of a Modern Concept". Nongbri provides an overview of the history of "religion" as a concept in the English speaking world, highlighting that the seemingly "natural" or "obvious" definition of the term is actually highly specific to the modern West.
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‘Religion’ as ‘sui generis’

In this interview with Thomas Coleman, McCutcheon discusses what he terms as the “socio-political strategy” behind the label of “sui generis” as it is applied to religion. The interview begins by exploring some of the terms used to support sui generis claims to religion (e.g. un-mediated, irreducible etc.)...
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Emile Durkheim

"...a vital tradition of the study of religion is the Durkheimian intellectual tradition. Generally dismissed by many in the study of religion because of its supposedly narrow "sociological" bent, the school of scholarship represented by Émile Durkheim, Henri Hubert, Marcel Mauss, Louis Dumont, Roger Caillois, Georges Bataille and others is, ...
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Concepts and Symbols, What Does It All Mean? Examining Immigrant Buddhists in Toronto

"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."
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Religion and the Media

The study of religion in the media is an interdisciplinary field which has been of interest for scholars in media studies, religious studies and sociology among others. In this interview, Christopher Cotter and Teemu Taira discuss the relevance of study of religion in the media from the religious studies point of view as well as the media discourse on religion – the ways in which media covers religion, functions as defining what counts as religion and negotiates its social location.
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The Twilight of Esoteric Wanders and Academic Ponders

"If one is to understand esotericism as a general term of identification reproduced through articulated fields of discourse, Western esotericism can be treated as a historical phenomenon without being nominalistic or idealistic, but instead as a field of discourses of interpretation interacting." One of the most influential scholars in the contemporary academic study of Western esotericism is beyond doubt the erudite and highly productive Wouter J. Hanegraaff, professor ...