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DISCIPLINARY CONFLICT IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION: ANTHROPOLOGY, SOCIOLOGY, AND "LINES IN THE SAND"

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This article explores the differences between the anthropological and the sociological approaches to religion as they have developed in the last decades of the twentieth century. Both disciplines are divided between generalizing and particularizing schools—"ethnology" vs "ethnography" to use the anthropologists' preferred terms. Where once the disciplinary affiliation of particularizers/ethnographers determined the content of their studies—anthropologists studying "culture" and sociologists studying "structure"—this division no longer holds. It has been replaced by a division that is simultaneously ethical and epistemological: anthropological ethnography has become post-colonial, while sociological ethnography remains in a largely colonial mode. The article distinguishes these modes and traces their implicit epistemologies to different sets of regulative ideals. Recent anthropology's twin regulative ideals, "truth" and "equality", have led it away from the myth of the anonymous observer to a focus on intercultural dialogue.

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