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How to Keep It Real

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Over the last decade or so, an enormous amount of energy has been spent arguing whether the religion category is a legitimate tool for academic inquiry. This essay begins with the assumption that there are other, more interesting projects to pursue than talking about “religion.” By taking Bruno Latour’s work in the field of science studies as a model of what interesting work in our field might look like, the article advocates an approach which abandons the search for what is really going on behind the exceptional beings, experiences and insights that the conventional study of “religion” emphasizes. Instead, it sketches a scholarly agenda whereby attention would be paid to the labor required to make the gods and spirits real actors in a collective.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of Religion, Florida State University Tallahassee FL 32306-1520 USA, Email:


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