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Postmodern Critiques Still Challenge the Study of Religion

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Chapter Summary

Armin W. Geertz's analysis of the methodological problems raised by post-modernists is discussed. Three critiques that pose a serious challenge to fundamental principles in the study of religion are discussed. Orientalist and feminist critiques focus on the underlying power structures with regards to colonial history and relations between genders while the critique of rationality deconstructs rationality-based science as universally accessible. Ethnohermeneutics is launched as part of a radicalized enlightenment project. It insists upon maintaining an improved version of the modern meta-narratives of rationality, humanism and progress. The complex role of the researcher of religion as contributing to the constant re-creation of the religious beliefs under study is a part of ethnohermeneutics. This is so because critical self-reflection is a cornerstone in the methodology. Native consultants are perceived as insightful collaborators rather than passive informants. They were termed as "cultural editors" by Geertz.

Keywords: cultural editors; ethnohermeneutics; feminist; Geertz; orientalist; post-modernists; religion



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