2. Utility and Limits: On the World Religions Paradigm
Religion in Theory and Practice - Demystifying the Field for Burgeoning Scholars - Russell T. McCutcheon
Russell T. McCutcheon [+]
University of Alabama
Russell T. McCutcheon is University Research Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, USA. He publishes widely on the history of the study of religion, the tools scholars use in their work, and the practical implications of that work. Among his recent publications are Reading J. Z. Smith (with Willi Braun; Oxford University Press, 2018), ‘Religion’ in Theory and Practice (Equinox Publishing, 2018) and Fabricating Religion (de Gruyter, 2018).
Much like those who argue that the field has gone through the so-called theory wars of the 1980 and ‘90s and is now critically-informed and thus post-theoretical, there are some who seem to accept the critiques, leveled over the last two decades, of the category “world religions” yet who merely argue that more social formations ought to be considered to be world religions. Rather than just opening the tent a little wider, this chapter—originally an Afterword to a collection of essays on the state of research on world religions today—reminds readers that critiques of this nineteenth-century category go well beyond merely examining the breadth of its application.