The Ideology of Religious Studies

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9780195167696: The Ideology of Religious Studies

In recent years there has been an intensifying debate within the religious studies community about the validity of religion as an analytical category. In this book Fitzgerald sides with those who argue that the concept of religion itself should be abandoned. On the basis of his own research in India and Japan, and through a detailed analysis of the use of religion in a wide range of scholarly texts, the author maintains that the comparative study of religion is really a form of liberal ecumenical theology. By pretending to be a science, religion significantly distorts socio-cultural analysis. He suggest, however, that religious studies can be re-represented in a way which opens up new and productive theoretical connections with anthropology and cultural and literary studies.

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The main thesis of this book is that ‘religion’ is not a genuine analytical category since it does no useful work in helping us to understand the world we live in. While it appears to have something important and meaningful to say about societies and cultures and personal experiences, when one looks at its actual use in a wide spectrum of descriptive and analytical contexts it becomes clear that so much is included in the term that it becomes indistinguishable from ‘culture’. It also fails to specify any distinctive kind of experience or social institution. As such, like a bottle-neck, it inhibits and hinders the flow of intellectual development in the humanities.

According to the author, Timothy Fitzgerald, the long-standing debates about the validity of ‘religion’ as an analytical category which have been taking place in the religious studies community have been circular. One reason for this is that the ideological distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘the secular’ has been so comprehensively institutionalised in western social systems that it appears as being ‘in the nature of things.’ However, many religion scholars themselves have had serious doubts about what constitutes their field of study. After failing to arrive at any consensus about what definitional criteria distinguishes religion from non-religion, or at what analytical level the term is being used, many scholars have virtually claimed that it is self-validating. Its meaningfulness is guaranteed by its use. We all know what we mean, otherwise we wouldn’t go on talking about it. As such the term is so comprehensively embedded in the language game that it inevitably appears as self-justifying to those who employ it and, indeed, to those who are employed by it.

In this book Fitzgerald widens the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural scope of the analysis, looking at texts, ostensibly about ‘religion’, produced by religionists, anthropologists, historians and others. By analysing its multiple uses, the author demonstrates that the continued faith in the category as an analytical tool and as the basis for distinct academic departments is illusory, and cannot be justified by any supposed analytical gains. He shows the confusions caused in the analysis of social institutions in India and Japan by the adoption of the modern western distinction between religion and non-religion, and the consequent conflict in those cultures between indigenous and western political, juridical and intellectual values. By critically rethinking ‘religion’ scholars can contribute to the wider task of reconstructing western categories, thus opening the academic agenda to new insights and understandings about human values and institutions.

About the Author:

Timothy Fitzgerald is at University of Stirling.

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In recent years there has been an intensifying debate within the religious studies community about the validity of religion as an analytical category. In this book Fitzgerald sides with those who argue that the concept of religion itself should be abandoned. On the basis of his own research in India and Japan, and through a detailed analysis of the use of religion in a wide range of scholarly texts, the author maintains that the comparative study of religion is really a form of liberal ecumenical theology. By pretending to be a science, religion significantly distorts socio-cultural analysis. He suggest, however, that religious studies can be re-represented in a way which opens up new and productive theoretical connections with anthropology and cultural and literary studies. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195167696

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In recent years there has been an intensifying debate within the religious studies community about the validity of religion as an analytical category. In this book Fitzgerald sides with those who argue that the concept of religion itself should be abandoned. On the basis of his own research in India and Japan, and through a detailed analysis of the use of religion in a wide range of scholarly texts, the author maintains that the comparative study of religion is really a form of liberal ecumenical theology. By pretending to be a science, religion significantly distorts socio-cultural analysis. He suggest, however, that religious studies can be re-represented in a way which opens up new and productive theoretical connections with anthropology and cultural and literary studies. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195167696

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In recent years there has been an intensifying debate within the religious studies community about the validity of religion as an analytical category. In this book Fitzgerald sides with those who argue that the concept of religion itself should be abandoned. On the basis of his own research in India and Japan, and through a detailed analysis of the use of religion in a wide range of scholarly texts, the author maintains that the comparative study of religion is really a form of liberal ecumenical theology. By pretending to be a science, religion significantly distorts socio-cultural analysis. He suggest, however, that religious studies can be re-represented in a way which opens up new and productive theoretical connections with anthropology and cultural and literary studies. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780195167696

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