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Spaces Vying for Power: The Rhetoric of Religion as a Rhetoric of Spatiality and the Role of the Public Intellectual

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Abstract Utilising insights from Jonathan Z. Smith, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and Judith Butler, it is argued that the academic study of religion has shifted from a rhetoric of autonomy to a rhetoric of spatiality. If religion as object of enquiry is seen as discursive practice, it cannot be reduced to a particular space which contributes to the problematisation of any definition thereof. On the other hand, as discursive practice it is constituted by a variety of different spaces, thereby expanding the scope of the scholar of religion. For that reason appropriating the notion public intellectual as characterisation of an alternative approach to the academic study of religion is proposed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa P. O. Box 392, 0003 UNISA Republic of South Africa, Email:; 2: Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa P. O. Box 392, 0003 UNISA Republic of South Africa


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