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Entanglements attempts to argue against those who claim that scholarship on the category religion is only of secondary interest, in that it fails to do primary research on real religions. The volume collects eighteen responses, written across twenty years, that each exemplify the inevitably situated, give-and-take nature of all academic debate. These essays call into question the often used distinction between primary and secondary sources, between description and analysis. Published here in their original form, each contribution is accompanied by new, substantive introduction describing the context of each response and explaining how each shows something still at stake in the academic study of religion--whether its the rhetoric used to authorize competing scholarly claims or the difficulty involved in suspending our commonsense view of the world long enough to study the means by which we have come to see it that way.

An ethnography of scholarly practice written mainly for earlier career readers--whether undergraduate or graduate students or even tenure-track faculty--Entanglements tackles the notion that some scholarship is more pristine, and thus more valuable, than others, thereby modeling for scholars earlier in their careers some of the obstacles and arguments that may face them should their research interests be judged unorthodox.

Published: Mar 1, 2014

Section Chapter Authors
Preface Russell McCutcheon
Sources Russell McCutcheon
Introduction Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 1
Naming the Unnameable? Theological Language and the Academic Study of Religion (1990) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 2
Ideology and the Problem of Naming: A Reply (1991) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 3
Returning the Volley to William E. Arnal (1998) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 4
Of Strawmen and Humanists: A Reply to Bryan Rennie (1999) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 5
A Brief Response from a Fortunate Man (2000) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 6
Who Sets the Ground Rules? A Response to "Comparativism, Then and Now" (2000) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 7
Artifacts Not Relics: A Response to "Missing Links in the Study of Religions! (2000) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 8
Filling in the Cracks with Resin: A Response to John Burris's "Text and Context in the Study of Religion" (2003) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 9
A Few Words on the Temptation to Defend the Honor of a Text (2004) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 10
Theorizing the Politics of "Religion": Rejoinder to Rober A. Segal (2005) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 11
The Perils of Having One's Cake and Eating it Too: Some Thoughts in Response (2005) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 12
Theses on Professionalization (2007) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 13
A Response to Professor Robert Campany's "Chinese Religious History and its Implications for Writing 'Religion' (2008) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 14
"As it Was in the Beginning...": The Modern Problem of the Ancient Self (2010) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 15
A Direct Question Deserves a Direct Answer: A Reply to Atalia Omer's "Can a Critic be a Caretaker too?" (2012) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 16
Recovering the Human: A Tale of Nouns and Verbs: A Rejoinder to Ann Taves (2012) Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 17
Three Dots and a Dash Russell McCutcheon
Chapter 18
The Sacred is the Profane (2012) Russell McCutcheon
End Matter
Afterword Russell McCutcheon
References Russell McCutcheon
Index Russell McCutcheon

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The book will be of interest to religious-studies scholars of all stripes and sub-disciplines. ..the compelling dynamism, complexity, and value of the theorist of religion’s arguments is difficult to deny. The volume provides a nuanced picture of a controversial figure in the field and in doing so undermines myriad caricatures of that scholar’s positions, arguments, and stances. …the book is certainly the most helpful work I’ve encountered… in terms of professionalization in religious studies. Where are other books of this stature intended to support early career scholars?

McCutcheon is a gifted essayist. His ‘‘Theses on Professionalization’’ present a model of practicality and clarity and should be essential reading.
Religious Studies Review