Real People, on the Ground | Studying Religion in Culture

A blog post for the University of Alabama about how critical studies in religion need to do more to demonstrate their practical utility, and how my editorship of Implicit Religion aims to help in doing that.

The fact is that what gets counted as religion in specific contexts is perhaps the most impactful question we can ask as social scientists. Far from being merely discourse-about-discourse in some Ivory Tower, the critical approach shows what the category is actually doing in the real world – both to those whom it constrains, and those for whom it is useful.

3 thoughts on “Real People, on the Ground | Studying Religion in Culture

  1. Bryan Sentes March 29, 2019 / 6:30 pm

    This column and your book leave me, first and foremost as a student and teacher of literature, with the impression that religious studies is going through what literary criticism did in the ’70s and ’80s in the wake of structuralism and other quasisociological interventions into the traditionally humanistic study of letters.

    Among the cognoscenti, the apparent contradiction between the two competing approaches in literary studies is undermined and surpassed by a reorientation toward the philosophical and epistemological problematic in the wake of Kant down to the present day. An excellent resource in this regard is Andrew Bowie’s _ From Romanticism to Critical Theory_.

    I wonder if this current agon in religious studies might not likewise profit by a Destruktion (“desedimentation”) of the grounds in which each side is dug in. Schleiermacher, more because of his NON-theological writings, might be a source or reorientation…

    • adamkadmon March 29, 2019 / 7:47 pm

      Thanks, Bryan, for what I think is a pretty fair assessment. Religious Studies has always been somewhat behind the theoretical avant garde, so it makes sense that other fields have been through such trench warfare before. The book is a good suggestion – especially as I want to read a bit more widely and try to escape the now established arguments and positions and find new ways forward.

      • Bryan Sentes March 29, 2019 / 8:50 pm

        The Bowie book was a godsend for me, trying to navigate between the Scylla of Theory and Charybdis of reactionary reactions; what it might promise for Religious Studies is a good question, but who knows what sparks it might strike for YOU, eh.–That being said, if you’ve had a chance to read anything on my blog or ideally “Presumed Immanent” you’ll see I am the arm-chairest of scholars! I had actually played with the idea of writing a rebuttal to my study on just these grounds!–And you, “Adam Kadmon”, eh. At least you can count me among those who get the joke…

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