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“Of And and Of : The Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion”

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Grammatical constructions in course titles and research agendas reflect particular theoretical orientations in the study of religion. Privileging one construction over the others amounts to a politics of grammar. Two constructions are examined here—the conjunction and the genitive: “Religion and. . .” and “. . .of Religion.” Whereas non-reductive methods such as theology/phenomenology and cultural anthropology endorse the conjunction, reductive methodologies such as biological anthropology invoke the genitive. With the evidence amassing in favor of natural, human universals (pace cultural anthropology) and against supernatural realities (pace theology/phenomenology), the essay argues that only the genitive construction has a place in the study of religion.

Affiliations: 1: Appalachian State University


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