Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity - Towards a Dynamic Theory of People and Place - Vaia Touna

Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity - Towards a Dynamic Theory of People and Place - Vaia Touna

3. Reply to Vaia Touna: Situated Descriptions

Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity - Towards a Dynamic Theory of People and Place - Vaia Touna

Steven W Ramey [+-]
University of Alabama
Steven W. Ramey is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program. His specialty is in contemporary issues surrounding identifications in India, which he addresses in his book Hindu, Sufi, or Sikh (Palgrave 2008), where he analyzes specifically the practices and contested definitions of communities identified as Sindhi Hindus. He has extended this analysis to reflect on issues in the academic and public discourse surrounding the category religion and issues of identifications in the United States and other contexts.

Description

Building on Vaia Touna’s response to my chapter on the construction of the nones, I argue that our academic descriptions should reflect the contingent nature of descriptions that Touna emphasizes. Any description of past actions, an item, or a scholar’s work makes selections and emphases that create the object of its discussion. Rather than arguing that some descriptions are true and others are false, I suggest that descriptions can be more or less convincing and valuable. I propose three ways of analyzing any description’s incompleteness, including its correspondence to evidence, the coherence of the connections presented, and the classifications employed. Then I propose three strategies to be more self-reflexive about the contingency of descriptions and their role in constituting the object of their discourse, and I demonstrate some of those strategies by rewriting a paragraph of my original chapter in which I failed to acknowledge the limited nature of the narrative.

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Citation

Ramey, Steven. 3. Reply to Vaia Touna: Situated Descriptions. Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity - Towards a Dynamic Theory of People and Place. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 57-70 Jan 2019. ISBN 9781781790731. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=23801. Date accessed: 13 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.23801. Jan 2019

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