5. Interrogating Categories with Ethnography: On the "Five Pillars" of Islam
Constructing Data in Religious Studies - Examining the Architecture of the Academy - Leslie Dorrough Smith
Jennifer Selby [+]
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Jennifer A. Selby is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and affiliate member of Gender Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Her research, teaching, and supervision broadly consider Muslim life in contemporary France and Canada and the nature of secularism. She is the author of Questioning French Secularism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and co-editor of Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration (University of Toronto Press, 2012).
This response takes up Annette Yoshiko Reed’s attention to the power dynamics and the limits of categories and categorization in academic scholarship on religion. The author considers Reed's warnings of anachronism and reification in relation to her work on texts in late antiquity in relation to the “five pillars,” a primary framework for categorizing the central beliefs and practices in Islam. More specifically Jennifer Selby considers the prevalence of this framework within contemporary social scientific research on Muslims in Canada and its purchase within a recent collaborative qualitative research project.