Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion

Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion

Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion

Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion

Synopsis

This title offers a sophisticated collection of essays on sexual identity and gender, ethnicity, race and religious affiliations and their relation to the study of religions from Christianity to Islam to Buddhism.

Excerpt

José Ignacio Cabezón and Sheila Greeve Davaney

I.

background

What does a scholar's identity have to do with the objects of his or her critical inquiry? Does scholarly knowledge require that investigators have personal distance from or proximity to the materials that they scrutinize? Do the particularities of individual or communal history aid or hinder the production of knowledge? How is identity to be understood, and what groups or individuals are to be the arbiters of the role it plays in teaching and scholarship? On the basis of what criteria should scholarship be judged?

These questions all have come to have prominence in the contemporary Western academy. They are at the center of the debates concerning what constitutes acceptable academic knowledge and what the role of the scholar is in the creation of that knowledge. While these debates are intense and widespread in the current historical moment, their roots go back at least to the emergence of the modern period and to the Enlightenment's quest for certain knowledge that was unburdened by the conflicting claims of both idiosyncratic personal histories and the warring legacies of philosophical and religious traditions. Emergent out of decades of widespread conflict, the early modern period sought ways beyond the impasses of particular personal and communal identities to forms of universal agreement about the nature, methods, and results of scientific and humanistic inquiry. the way beyond competing and conflict-ridden perspectives was thought to be, for Enlightenment thinkers, a universal rationality that all humans in

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