Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Recognizing Religion: Disciplinary Traditions, Epistemology, and History

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Numen

AbstractQuestions of methodology hang on epistemology. I consider the conceptualization of the subject of the study of religion, arguing that the disciplines that carry out the study and also the objects or subjects of their study can be understood as traditions. I briefly review the conceptualization of religion within the anthropological tradition, noting a tension between understanding religion as socially immanent or as a set of explicit beliefs and practices constitutive of the transcendent. Religion is probably conceptualized rather differently within religious studies, especially insofar as each tradition has formulated itself in relation to secularism in its own way and in relation to, or confrontation with, other distinct traditions, whether of science or theology. Drawing on a meteorological metaphor, I suggest that both disciplines and religions qua traditions can be understood to change along historical “fronts;” these form both the conditions of our knowledge and its appropriate subject matter.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Department of Anthropology19 Russell Street, Toronto, on


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Asad Talal The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam 1986 Washington, D.C. Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Occasional Paper Series
2. Asad Talal Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam 1993 Baltimore Johns Hopkins Press
3. Asad Talal Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity 2003 Stanford Stanford University Press
4. Austin J. L. How To Do Things with Words 1965 [1955] Oxford Oxford University Press
5. Becker Alton Becker A. L. , Yengoyan A. A. "“Text-Building, Epistemology and Aesthetics in Javanese Shadow Theatre”" The Imagination of Reality: Essays in Southeast Asian Symbolic Systems 1979 Norwood, NJ Ablex 211 243
6. Bernstein Richard Between Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis 1983 Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania Press
7. Bloch Maurice Ritual, History and Power: Selected Papers in Anthropology 1989 London Athlone
8. Chakrabarty Dipesh Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 2000 Princeton Princeton University Press
9. Culler Jonathan Structuralist Poetics 1975 Ithaca Cornell University Press
10. Daswani Girish Looking Back, Looking Forward: Pentecostal Transformation and Ethical Practice in Ghana and London Forthcoming Toronto University of Toronto Press
11. Deren Maya Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti 1953 London McPherson & Co.
12. Dunham Katharine Island Possessed 1969 Chicago University of Chicago Press
13. el Guindi Fadwa Religion in Culture 1977 Dubuque, Iowa Wm. C. Brown
14. Fernandez James Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa 1982 Princeton Princeton University Press
15. Gadamer Hans-Geog Truth and Method 1985 [1960] New York Seabury
16. Geertz Armin "“Ethnohermeneutics and Worldview Analysis in the Study of Hopi Indian Religion”" Numen 2003 Vol 50 3 309 348
17. Geertz Clifford Geertz Clifford "“Religion as a Cultural System”" The Interpretation of Cultures 1973a [1966] New York Basic Books 87 125
18. Geertz Clifford Geertz Clifford "“ ‘Deep Play’: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”" The Interpretation of Cultures 1973b New York Basic Books 412 453
19. Hacking Ian Historical Ontology 2002 Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press
20. Hirschkind Charles The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics 2006 New York Columbia University Press
21. James Wendy The Ceremonial Animal: A New Portrait of Anthropology 2003 Oxford Oxford University Press
22. Johnson Paul Christopher Johnson Paul C. "“Toward a Genealogy of ‘Spirit Possession’ in Black Atlantic Religions”" The Work of “Possession” in the Black Atlantic Forthcoming 2014 Chicago University of Chicago Press 1 22
23. Keane Webb Christian Moderns: Freedom & Fetish in the Mission Encounter 2007 Berkeley University of California Press
24. Klassen Pamela Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity 2011 Berkeley University of California Press
25. Lambek Michael The Weight of the Past: Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar 2002 New York Palgrave Macmillan
26. Lambek Michael A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion 2008 2nd (expanded) ed. Cambridge and Boston Blackwell
27. Lambek Michael Lambek Michael "“Towards an Ethics of the Act”" Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action 2010 New York Fordham University Press 39 63
28. Lambek Michael "“Facing Religion, From Anthropology”" Anthropology of This Century 2012 accessed 2 December 2013 Vol 4
29. Lambek Simon "“Secularism and National Anxiety: Transformations in Québec and the Theoretical Interventions of Charles Taylor”" 2011 Chicago University of Chicago MAPSS thesis
30. Lévi-Strauss Claude The Savage Mind 1966 London Weidenfeld and Nicolson
31. MacIntyre Alasdair Whose Justice? Which Rationality? 1988 Notre Dame, Ind. University of Notre Dame Press
32. MacIntyre Alasdair Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition 1990 London Duckworth
33. Mahmood Saba Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject 2005 Princeton Princeton University Press
34. Meyer Birgit "“Response to ter Haar and Ellis”" Africa 2009 Vol 79 3 413 415
35. Orsi Robert Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them 2005 Princeton Princeton University Press
36. Pouillon Jean Izard Michel , Smith Pierre "“Remarks on the Verb ‘To Believe’ ”" Between Belief and Transgression: Structural Essays on Religion, History, and Myth 1982 Chicago University of Chicago Press 1 8
37. Ranger Terence "“Scotland Yard in the Bush: Medicine Murders, Child Witches, and the Construction of the Occult: A Literature Review”" Africa 2007 Vol 77 2 272 283
38. Rappaport Roy Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity 1999 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
39. Richman Karen Johnson Paul C. "“Possession and Attachment: Notes on Moral Ritual Communication among Haitian Descent Groups”" The Work of “Possession” in the Black Atlantic Forthcoming 2014 Chicago University of Chicago Press
40. Ricoeur Paul "“The Model of the Text: Meaningful Action Considered as a Text”" Social Research 1971 Vol 38 3 529 562
41. Ruel Malcolm Davis John "“Christians as Believers”" Religious Organization and Religious Experience 1982 London Academic Press 9 31
42. Sahlins Marshall Culture and Practical Reason 1976 Chicago University of Chicago Press
43. Taylor Charles A Secular Age 2007 Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press
44. ter Haar Gerrie , Ellis Stephen "“The Occult Does Not Exist: A Response to Terence Ranger”" Africa 2009 Vol 79 3 397 412
45. Tugendhat Ernst "“Whom to Thank? German Philosopher Ernst Tugendhat on Religion as a Need and the Difficulty of Satisfying It”" 2006 accessed 2 December 2013 The article originally appeared in German in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 9 December 2006.
46. Yang Mayfair Gifts, Favors, and Banquets 1994 Ithaca Cornell University Press

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Numen — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation