Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia
In this new book, author Russell McCutcheon offers a powerful critique of traditional scholarship on religion, focusing on multiple interrelated targets. Most prominent among these are the History of Religions as a discipline; Mircea Eliade, one of the founders of the modern discipline; recent scholarship on Eliade's life and politics; contemporary textbooks on world religions; and the oft-repeated bromide that "religion" is a sui generis phenomenon. McCutcheon skillfully analyzes the ideological basis for and service of the sui generis argument, demonstrating that it has been used to constitute the field's object of study in a form that is ahistoric, apolitical, fetishized, and sacrosanct. As such, he charges, it has helped to create departments, jobs, and publication outlets for those who are comfortable with such a suspect construction, while establishing a disciplinary ethos of astounding theoretical naivete and a body of scholarship to match. Surveying the textbooks available for introductory courses in comparative religion, the author finds that they uniformly adopt the sui generis line and all that comes with it. As a result, he argues, they are not just uncritical (which helps keep them popular among the audiences for which they are intended, but badly disserve), but actively inhibit the emergence of critical perspectives and capacities. And on the geo-political scale, he contends, the study of religion as an ahistorical category participates in a larger system of political domination and economic and cultural imperialism.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Ideological Strategies and the Politics of Nostalgia
Autonomy Discourses and Social Privilege
The Debate on the Autonomy of Eliade
The Poverty of Theory in the Classroom
The Category Religion in Recent Scholarship
Other editions - View all
academic study analysis aspect of human asserts assumption autonomy beliefs Berger Buddhist Cantwell Smith chapter comparative religion concerning constitutes construct contemporary context Couliano critical critique cultural datum debate defend developed discipline discourse on religion distinct dominant economic Eliade Eliade’s employ essay essence essentialist essentially ethnocentrism examined example exclusively fact field Geertz generis claim generis religion hermeneutic hierophanies historical history of religions ideological implications insomuch institutional intellectual interpretation Iron Guard issues Ivan Strenski Manea meaning methodological Mircea Eliade modern myths naturalistic naturalistic discourse nature normative Olson one’s phenomenological political practices presumed privilege Quang question reading reductionism relations religious experience religious pluralism religious studies representation rituals Romanian sacred scholarly scholars of religion scholarship selfevidently Simply put skyhooks Smart’s social sociopolitical specific strategies Strenski study of religion suggested symbols Terry Eagleton textbooks texts theological theoretical tradition undefended understanding unique Wiebe words world religions writes