8. The Study of Religion as a National and Nationalist Project

Somewhere between Islam and Judaism - Critical Reflections - Aaron W. Hughes

Aaron W. Hughes [+-]
University of Rochester
Aaron W. Hughes is the Philip S. Bernstein Professor in the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester. His research and publications focus on both Jewish philosophy and Islamic Studies. He has authored numerous books, including Situating Islam: The Past and Future of an Academic Discipline (Equinox, 2007); Theorizing Islam: Disciplinary Deconstruction and Reconstruction (Equinox, 2012); Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam (Columbia, 2012); and Abrahamic Religions: On the Uses and Abuses of History (Oxford, 2012). He currently serves as the editor of the journal Method and Theory in the Study of Religion.


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.

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Hughes, Aaron. 8. The Study of Religion as a National and Nationalist Project. Somewhere between Islam and Judaism - Critical Reflections. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2021. ISBN 9781800500563. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=42208. Date accessed: 15 Apr 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.42208. Sep 2021

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