Treating 'religion' as a fully social, cultural, historical and material field of practice, this book presents a series of debates and positions on the nature and purpose of the 'Study of Religions', or 'Religious Studies'. Offering an introductory guide to this influential, and politically relevant, academic field, the contributors illustrate the diversity and theoretical viability of qualitative empirical methodologies in the study of religions. The historical and cultural circumstances attending the emergence, defence, and future prospects of Religious Studies are documented, drawing on theoretical material and case studies prepared within the context of the British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR), and making frequent reference to wider European, North American, and other international debates and critiques.
’This volume successfully establishes the disciplinary significance of qualitative empirical methodologies in the Study of Religion and makes a significant critical contribution to the modern historiography of the field, both in the UK and in a wider European context.’ Professor Malory Nye, Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, UK 'Religion - all around us and within many - remains difficult to define and not always easy to study. Sometimes ecstatic and exotic, frequently officially regulated, and often just a way of life or plain superstition, this realm of human life and action stands as a challenge to scholars. Some of the imaginative attempts made to describe, understand and interpret these expressions of faith, fear, meaning and hope are captured in this fiftieth anniversary volume of the British Association for the Study of Religions. Through a stimulating variety of representative authors this book identifies a group of diverse scholars engaging with the ’big questions’ of humanity, often combining minute detail with vivid description, but always theoretically alert to the interplay between traditional and radically contemporary questions of how best to proceed'. Professor Douglas Davies, University of Durham, UK ' The range of human interest, the theoretical sophistication, and the power of description suggest a thriving intellectual arena.' Bulletin of the British Association for the Study of Religions 'This is a feast of a book, certainly a must for libraries and highly commended for individual purchase. It brings together work by 18 scholars of distinction in the field of religious studies, based in the UK and beyond, and expertly illuminates subjects as diverse as devotion to St Gerard Majella in Newfoundland, the followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Christian renewal in Ghana. Every chapter is excellent value…' British Journal of Religious Education ’… the informative, insightful and sometimes provocative
Contents: Foreword, Peggy Morgan; Introduction: Qualitative empirical methodologies: an inductive argument, Steven J. Sutcliffe. Part One Category And Method: Phenomenology, fieldwork and folk religion, Marion Bowman; Media, meaning and method in the study of religion, Chris Arthur; How to study religious experience in the traditions, Peter Antes; 'The Sacred' as a viable concept in the contemporary study of religions, Terence Thomas; The sense and nonsense of 'community': a consideration of contemporary debates about community and culture by a scholar of religion, Kim Knott; Chosen people: the concept of diaspora in the modern world, Gerrie ter Haar; Study of Religions: The New Queen of the Sciences?, Brian Bocking. Part Two Case Studies: Religious Experience in Early Buddhism?, Richard Gombrich; Women and goddesses in the Celtic world, Miranda Aldhouse-Green; Religion, gender and Dharma: the case of the widow-Asceti, Julia Leslie; A Buddhist-Christian encounter in Sri Lanka: the Panadura Vada, Ria Kloppenborg; Religion and community in indigenous contexts, Armin W. Geertz; African spirituality, religion and innovation, Elizabeth Amoah; Unificationism: a study in religious syncretism, George D. Chryssides; Multiculturalism, Muslims and the British state, Tariq Modood. Afterword: separating religion from the 'sacred': methodological Agnosticism and the future of religious studies, James L. Cox. Index.