On the Relationship Between Method and the Object of Study When Studying Religion

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If a discipline is defined by the object of its study, then the definition of the object of study has a priori paramount importance. Studies of the evolution of the study of religion show that researchers have been unable to escape their own socio-political contexts. I begin with a brief consideration of the evolution of superstition as a means to gain perspective on the evolution of the study of religion and definitions of religion and as a cautionary note to both the contextual study of religion and the cognitive-evolutionary (ce) study of religion. I then continue with an overview of our conference, “Researching Religion: Methodological Debates in Anthropology and the Study of Religion,” at Aarhus University, and the seven articles published in this special double issue of Numen. Taken together, they reflect and address an international rupture between the contextual and the ce study of religion, and point towards productive avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • religion, anthropology, method, epistemology, superstition, cognitive science of religion, history of religion, ethnography

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