8. The Study of Religion as a National and Nationalist Project
Aaron W. Hughes [+]
University of Rochester
At first glance, this chapter might seem like an outlier in the sense that it deals neither explicitly with Islam nor Judaism, but instead reflects on the study of religion at the current moment. Using the study of religion Canada as its “e.g,” it argues that category “religion” is intimately caught up with the modern nation state. It is, after all, the state—with is overlapping legal, political, and social infrastructures—that is the ultimate arbiter of what gets to count as a religion and what does not, and who is religious and who is not. Religion is thus imagined, constructed, and situated in specific national frames of reference. These frames, unfortunately, are rarely examined and we instead operate as if there exists some trans-national study of religion.