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Taking on the Guild: Tomoko Masuzawa and The Invention of World Religions

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This review provides a reading of Tomoko Masuzawa's The Invention of World Religions (2005) based upon the psychoanalytically-inflected, post-structuralist approach that Masuzawa developed in her first book, In Search of Dreamtime (1993). It is argued that there is a tension in the book between two theses—(i) that the discourse of world religions perpetuates Christian theological universalism and (ii) that the discourse of world religions perpetuates a Eurocentric view of the world. Ambiguity about this question within Masuzawa's narrative allows those who propound a broadly secular approach to the study of religion ("the guild' to which the author aligns herself) to read her work as a critique of ongoing Christian theological trends in the study of religion despite the fact that the primary narrative direction of the book offers an account that seeks to cut across the secular-theological dichotomy by challenging the Euro-(American) paradigms (whether Christian or post-Christian and secular) that continue to dominate this field of study.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University, 2201 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37235, USA


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