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Islam and the Sui-generis Discourse: Representations of Islam in Textbooks Used in Introductory Courses of Religious Studies in Sweden

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

AbstractAfter the attacks of September 11, 2001, some professional scholars of Islam argued that the terrorists involved in the attacks were not really Muslims, but hijackers of Islam. According to other scholars, such arguments reflect a common sui-generis discourse in religious studies which stresses the autonomy of religious phenomena and the priority of faith over cultural production. The scholars in favor for a naturalistic approach in religious studies argues that, in order to approach religion in a naturalistic way, we have to be critical of representations of religion—and in this case representations of Islam—drawing on a sui-generis discourse. The aim of this article is to investigate how Islam is represented in textbooks used in religious studies introductory courses in Sweden. The article shows how the texts and textbooks are drawing on sui-generis discourses to invent consensus in favor of difference, when representing Islam and Muslims.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Literature, History of Ideas and Religion, University of Gothenburg405 30,


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1. Andersen Peter B., Dahlgren Curt, Johannesson Steffen, Otterbeck Jonas Religion, skole og kulturel integration i Danmark og Sverige 2006 København Museum Tusculanums Forlag/Københavns universitet
2. Esposito John L. Islam: The Straight Path 1998 3rd edition New York Oxford University Press
3. Esposito John L. Islam: den raka vägen 2001 Lund Studentlitteratur
4. Fairclough Norman Analyzing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research 2003 London Routledge
5. Hughes Aaron W. Situating Islam: The Past and Future of an Academic Discipline 2007 London Equinox
6. Larsson Göran Att läsa koranen: en introduktion 2006 Stockholm Verbum
7. Magnusson Anna-Karin, Gunneng Hedda Granskning av utbildningarna inom religionsvetenskap och teologi 2008 Stockholm Högskoleverket
8. McCutcheon Russell T. Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia 1997 New York Oxford University Press
9. Roald Anne Sofie Islam: historia, tro, nytolkning 2005 Stockholm Natur och kultur

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