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A Response to Kevin Schilbrack

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Abstract Kevin Schilbrack has pointed out that in my publications over a period from 1994 to 2007 there are some discrepancies in my arguments about some categories, especially “politics” and “culture.” In some earlier research on Dalits and Buddhists in Maharashtra I could not locate “religion,” so I attempted, unsuccessfully, to develop a tripartite conceptual substitution for “religion”—ritual, politics and soteriology—for purposes of description and analysis. However, though this was repeated in Ideology, I have come to realize that it contradicts a more fundamental argument which is tacit all the way through Ideology, for example in the critique of constructions of “religion-and-society.” It has become progressively clearer to me that the religion-politics binary is one of a series which rhetorically invents both domains (fundamentally religion-nonreligion) as mutually parasitic, while simultaneously transforming the nonreligious secular domains into the common sense order of things. Religion acts as the arena of “faith” and “belief ” in contrast to the supposed objective secular knowledge of the “real” world. I have pursued this latter argument most recently in Religion and Politics in International Relations: the Modern Myth, which shows how writers in that discipline have transformed “religion” into a global agent of malice threatening the benignly rational secular state.

Affiliations: 1: University of Stirling Stirling, FK9 4LA Scotland, UK


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