View Chapters

Book: Constructing

Chapter: Chapter 1

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34166


-This chapter considers the mechanisms scholars use to determine that something is (or is not) worthy of study. Central to this inquiry are the politics of what we call “data.” Although many scholars who claim methodological sophistication recognize that the tangible subjects that make possible the field of religious studies are humans (over against those who claim that we study, instead, sui generis essences), a significant proportion of the same scholars balk at the labeling of humans as “data,” claiming that such a move unethically objectifies humans by reducing them to rote biological and/or political operations that collectively fail to recognize aspects of humanity often called “the human spirit.” The purpose of this chapter is thus to explore how the category of “human spirit” and other related taxons help generate a sort of hidden essentialism that naturalizes the split between humans and their behaviors.

Chapter Contributors

  • Annette Yoshiko Reed ( - ayoshikoreed) 'University of Pennsylvania'