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You Show Your Smith and I’ll Show Mine: Selection, Exegesis, and the Politics of Citation

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This essay reflects on the politics and poetics of citation, and offers a constructive reading of Jonathan Z. Smith’s work. This is accomplished by a careful, critical reading of Hugh Urban’s trenchant critiques of Smith. I argue that the referential techniques through which Urban constructs his argument are highly selective and often manipulate the relevant texts. The final pages of the essay consider how, based on the techniques of citation employed, one can always produce a different reading. The essay thus serves as an “e.g.” of how our methods and theories drive our use of data and create our object of study; or, as Smith puts it, scholars have no privileged “place on which to stand.”

Affiliations: 1: Centre for the Study of Religion University of Toronto, Email:


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