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Discourses of Crisis and the Study of Religion

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After an opening section that explores the deployment of “crisis” in various aspects of higher education, this volume is structures the critical approach to the category of crisis through four distinct sections: Language, Lexicon, Locus, and Locution. The section on Language examines the social rhetoric that emerges in historical moments of rupture, resistance, and reconstitution. The section on Lexicon considers different projects of persuasion exemplified in the critical study of religion in and through crisis. The section on Locus discusses three instances of religious institutions adapting to “crises” in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, highlighting that religions are not fixed entities but living constructions. The final section, Locution, brings together senior scholars to assess the stated aim of the American Academy of Religion (i.e., “thinking about the actual human implications of religion in a world upended”) and explain how we might provide an alternative to that use of crisis in the field of religious studies. The book is concluded with an Afterword by Aaron Hughes.

Published: Oct 1, 2024

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Lauren Griffin
Part I: Critiquing "Crisis" in Higher Education
1. What Crisis? The Study of Religion is Always in Crisis Aaron Hughes
2. The Contingency Crisis Emily Crews
3. Theology and Religious Studies: a Relationship in Crisis? Suzanne Owen
4. Deploying “Crisis” for the Financialization of Higher Ed: Platform Capitalism and the Information Society Lauren Griffin
5. Scholars are People Too: The (Sometimes) Difficult Shift to the Discourse of Crisis Russell McCutcheon
Part II: Language: Theorizing Crisis as "A Turning Point"
6. Profit and Loss: The New Time of Crisis Zoe Anthony
7. Black Fires: Analyzing the Relationship Between Radical Theology and Arson in South Georgia Aaron Treadwell
8. Force of Law: Resources in Derrida for Rethinking Policing Karen Elizabeth Zoppa
9. Thinking Through Crisis as Turning Point Andrew Durdin
Part III: Lexicon: Crisis as Method in the Study of Religion
10. The Crisis of World Religions and the Critique of Essentialism Michael Dejonge
11. Enlarging Religious Studies, Wither-ing Neoliberalism Matt Sheedy
12. Pop Goes the People—Populism, Panics, and Pandemics Carmen Celestini
Part IV: Locus: Landmarks in Religious Adaptations in the Face of Crisis
13. “Social Church" and a ‘Pragmatic’ Relationship with the State: The Wager of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico and Orthodox Church in Russia in Times of Crisis Xochiquetzal Luna
14. Yoga’s ‘Flexibility’ in Brazil During the COVID-19 Pandemic Gustavo Moura
15. Compounded Crises: How the Principle of Subsidiarity Informs Catholic Responses to Critical Issues in North America Ben Szoller
Part V: Locution: Upending the Discipline
16. Response K. Merinda Simmons
17. Response Adrian Hermann
18. Afterword Aaron Hughes