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Methodological Ludism and the Academic Study of Religion

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Abstract The usual options scholars have when dealing with religious truth claims—methodological atheism, theism and agnosticism—are criticized for being restricted to the contrast between science and religion. They represent researchers’ perspectives that are not helpful in studying believers’ truth claims. Furthermore, they are associated with positivist or neo-positivist approaches to religion. Methodological ludism is presented as an alternative point of departure that connects well with current constructivist approaches to religion. Methodological ludism invites fieldworkers to use their human capacity for play by identifying temporarily, in a serious way, with believers’ claims of true knowledge. This posture is described and explored in a case study of a Dutch healer, Jomanda.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Groningen University The Netherlands ; 2: Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam The Netherlands


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