Race and Religion: Postcolonial Formations of Power and Whiteness

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
Malory Nye Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

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I have two ambitions in this paper. The first is to explore a framework for talking about the intersections between the categories of race and religion, particularly with reference to critical race and critical religion approaches. The second is to discuss how discourses on religion are a particular type of racial formation, or racialization. The premise for this discussion is the historic, colonial-era development of the contemporary categories of race and religion, and related formations such as whiteness. Both religion and race share a common colonial genealogy, and both critical studies of race and religion also stress the politically discursive ways in which the terms create social realities of inequality. Although the intersections between these terms are often discussed as the ‘racialization of religion’, in this paper I follow Meer (2013) and others by concluding that the category of religion is in itself a form of racialization.

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