Book: On the Subject of Religion
Chapter: 2. Main Paper: The Enduring Presence of Our Pre-Critical Past Or, the Same As it Ever Was, the Same As it Ever Was
Using initiatives to enhance both students’ and the publics’ religious literacy as the example—from professional associations establishing guidelines to Departments seeing in it their raison d’etre--this paper argues that recent critical gains in the study of religion have been effectively domesticated and thereby limited (such as strong critiques of the world religions paradigm). The paper concludes by challenging a new generation of scholars, some of whom are undoubtedly working in conditions that, in key regards, are rather different from their predecessors, to defend the academic study of religion as an exercise separate from advocating for various religious stances.