Book: On the Subject of Religion
Previous volumes in the NAASR Working Papers series have critical reflections on key domains of field, such as theory, method, data, and categories. This latest addition to the series takes a step back to consider syncretically how religion is imagined or invented through several lenses. It takes as inspiration the work of the late Jonathan Z. Smith, who challenged scholars to be mindful of the ways they imagine religion and religious data. Building off this crucial insight, On the Subject of Religion brings together a range of early-career and established scholars of religion to explore how various domains of society—namely the classroom, academic literature, public debates, and private fundraising—shape and are shaped by the contours of the academic study of religion. For example, how is religion depicted in the academic study of religion? How do private donors selectively privilege certain descriptions of religion and to what ends? Do the practical needs of students align or conflict with the theoretical concerns of scholars? To what extent do answers to these questions reveal shared challenges or fault lines across the field of study?