Book: Key Categories in the Study of Religion
Chapter: Introduction: Critique in Context
This volume considers four social categories prominent in religious studies: citizenship and politics; race and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; and class and economy. In doing so, it offers an opportunity to redescribe these categories. Like religion, they are not natural or self-evident categories, but they are often treated as such. A failure to adequately theorize them leaves us without any real starting point for analysis. Thus, this volume’s premise is to establish an analytical framework in which the same redescription warranted to the study of religion might be likewise provided for critical categories qua the study of religion. Each section opens with a main essay that addresses the category’s currency and its application within the author’s research specialization. Michael McVicar, Richard Newton, Megan Goodwin, and Suzanne Owen each offer a redescription of the approach scholars of religion might take to their category. These opening chapters are followed by response chapters with an eye toward expounding the category. The respondents were asked to take up the themes of the chapter with special attention to category and show how it might be applicable in new contexts. Rather than repeating the category, they were asked to explore how it worked or did not when applied to divergent contexts. In doing so, we hoped to provide a multivocal conversation that might resonate with readers who could place their own potential contributions in conversation with the primary essays and the responses.