A Critical Primer
Steven Engler [+–]
Mount Royal University
This book looks at the concept of tradition as used in the discourse of the study of religion. It examines the history of meanings of the concept, the range of uses in the field of religious studies at present, theoretical perspectives, core conceptual implications, and recommendations for clearing the air of a key theoretical tension surrounding the concept of the “invention of tradition.”
The book problematizes the use of ‘tradition’ as a synonym for ‘religion.’ It engages critically with important theoretical works, ranging from Robert Redfield’s Peasant Society and Culture (1956), Edward Shils’ Tradition (1981) and Hobsbawm/Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition (1992) to Pascal Boyer’s The Naturalness of Religious Ideas (1994) and Harvey Whitehouse’s Modes of Religiosity (2004). It reviews the small but growing list of publications reflecting on this category in the study of religions itself. Discussions and arguments are illustrated with examples from a variety of religions, including Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christianities, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Candomblé, South Pacific cultures, and different western esoteric streams (not least Traditionalism).
Table of Contents