Introduction: Culture, Religion, and the Fabrication of Identities
Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion - Social and Rhetorical Techniques Examined - Monica R. Miller
Monica R. Miller [+]
Beginning with and grounded upon Culture on the Edge’s theoretical reliance upon social theorist Jean Francois Bayart’s claim that “there is no such thing as identity, only operational acts of identification,” in this “Introduction” Miller explores and engages A “Culture” of Influence in Religious Studies” and the all-too-common thought-structure regarding the manner in which concepts, such as ‘culture,’ or here we might even add ‘religion,’ have often been treated, approached, and theorized as concrete entities, real concepts and self-evident constructs that alone are often thought to signify and illumine material experiences and tangible things. Within the study of religion, Miller argues, there is a certain sort of academic “culture” of attributing the irreducibility of difference to the influence and meaning of ‘religion’ as a separate and stand-alone entity unto itself – often assumedly divorced from identity and cultural affinity. Miller engages the complexity of this culture – and introduces this volume and the work of the Culture on the Edge scholarly collective – through an in-depth consideration of the need for attention towards how scholars in the study of religion, such theorist Russell T. McCutcheon (and others) have responded to this tendency within the field to cast religion/the sacred/etc. as sui generis—that is, of its own sort, irreducible—through careful criticisms meant to dislodge the social and political weight of what we call religion from the academic study of religion.