The Insider/Outsider Debate
The distinction between “insiders” and “outsiders” in religious studies has become an area of fruitful discussion in recent years. This anthology aims to extend that discussion by gathering newly commissioned essays from a diverse range of scholars, spanning a variety of disciplines and approaches, including ethnography, anthropology, theology and education. The result is a book that is at once accessible and readable, while remaining scholarly.
The Insider/Outsider Debate has implications for numerous methodological issues in the study of religion, such as the emic/etic distinction, the distinction between religion and spirituality, the notions of “believing without belonging”, the claim to be “spiritual but not religious” and the existence of multiple, complicated, contesting religious identities. A particular focus of the volume is providing critiques of these methodological issues within the most recent academic approaches to religion – particularly models of lived and vernacular religion.
Published: Oct 15, 2019
The Insider/Outsider Debate is a comprehensive study of the ways in which religious identity and our relationships with both colleagues and informants do not fit into clearly defined categories. This is a text that not only contributes to an ongoing methodological discussion within academia, but also shows that notions of insider and outsider, like the
cultures we study, are not static, but always changing through time.
Such a specialist book may not readily get beyond the specialists. It must. These are not specialist issues. They have consequences for every living being.
These are issues that everybody can understand, most people would regard them as important for healthy community life, and nobody has to make the whole journey; exploring foothills can often be more rewarding than achieving peaks. There are easy first steps and one or two sparks could fuel beacons of prayer across the country. Organisers of study groups or conferences touching on prejudice, inter-faith issues or simply basic hospitality, and seeking ways of working together should not overlook it.