Ubiquity Scorned: Belief’s Strange Survivals

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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Abstract

This paper attempts not to continue the methodological interrogation of “belief” as a category central to Religious Studies, but to problematize and analyze the ubiquity of such interrogations. Investigations of “belief,” I argue, are also occasions to explore the discipline’s less obvious investments in intellectual and institutional traditions still shackled to the very category under scrutiny. The stand-alone category “religion” that is so central to political culture and disciplinary formation depends on “belief” to facilitate recognition. Thus, while Religious Studies now habitually discredits “belief” as a ubiquitous analytical category, it also partly depends on “belief’s” presences for its disciplinary self-justification.

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