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The Rise of the Nacirema and the Descent of European Man: A Response to Manuel A. Vásquez’s More than Belief

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract Manuel Vásquez’s Beyond Belief richly examines the prospects of rooting the study of religion more seriously within the imperatives of materialist theory. His study also prompts scholars to consider how attention to the body has been shaped by race and empire. In this essay, I reflect on how the linkage of religion, race, and empire has shaped the imperial history of imagining dark bodies and matter more broadly. I conclude that the ethnographic turn within studies of Western religious subjects signals an important, generative shift in scholarship, one that enables a more rigorous, materially-centered interpretation of Western religious subjectivity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University 5-128 Crowe Hall, 1860 Campus Dr. Evanston, IL 60208-2209 USA


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