The Future of the Study of Religion: Proceedings of Congress 2000

The Future of the Study of Religion: Proceedings of Congress 2000

The Future of the Study of Religion: Proceedings of Congress 2000

The Future of the Study of Religion: Proceedings of Congress 2000

Synopsis

This volume brings together diverse voices from various fields within religious and theological studies for a conversation about the proper objects, goals, and methods for the study of religion in the twenty-first century. It approaches these questions by way of the most recent contemporary challenges, debates, and developments in the field, and provides a forum in which contending perspectives are tested and contested by their proponents and opponents. Contributors address topics such as: the connection between the normative and the scientific approaches to the study of religion, the meaning of religion in a context of globalization, the relation between religious studies and religious traditions, the viability of comparative and cultural studies of religious phenomena, and the future of gender studies in religion.

Excerpt

Slavica Jakelić and Lori Pearson

At the beginning of a new millennium the interest in and appeal to religion in various dimensions of global and local cultures is greater than ever. the rise in religious adherence and innovation in societies around the world reveals the limitations of the secularization thesis that framed much of twentieth-century reflection on religion. An increased awareness of religious pluralism and diversity spawns lively questions, collaborations, and tensions among religious practitioners and policy makers alike. the complex and contested role of religion in international politics draws attention to the need for new and deeper understanding of religions and their relation to economic, social, political, and cultural forms and dynamics.

Today the study of religion, too, is an object of engagement and debate. in recent decades the field of religious studies has been enriched and challenged by a wide range of novel perspectives, redefined concerns, and altered tasks. New methodologies have opened up previously unexplored terrains and overlooked histories, while new agendas have emerged from the complexities of religious life and expression in a postcolonial and globalized world.

In the face of these challenges and developments, how should religious studies proceed and what shape should it take? Complex quandaries and questions unite and divide scholars attempting to circumscribe the discipline. Comparative frameworks prove useful for understanding religions in a globalized world, and even for drawing broad connections among religions in all their diversity. At the same time, postcolonial and postmodern insights problematize comparative studies, exposing the western (and Christian) provenance of the very concept 'religion' and underscoring the integrity of each particular religious phenomenon. New developments on the religious scene (such as new spiritualities or recovered histories and traditions) challenge the competency of prevailing methodologies and classification schemes. For some scholars, such developments demand a radical change in the character of the discipline; for others, the history of the field . . .

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