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Beyond Disciplinarity

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Reflections on the Study of Religion in International Development

image of Religion and Theology

The increasing public role of religion in Sub-Saharan Africa and the consequent studies that are emerging on the topic, force us to rethink how to interpret, approach, categorize and understand religion in the public. The pervasiveness of religion, and the impossibility of simply inscribing it within a single discipline pushes us to reconsider our approaches, methodologies and theories. Focusing on the emergence of “Religion and Development” (RaD) as a sub-discipline within the discipline of Development Studies, the article will show how the creation of “focused transdisciplinarity”, embedded in critical social science, can be an answer to the need of engaging with the multilayered nature of religion without compromising rigor and while still benefiting from methodologies and theories developed within a defined discipline. The article argues that a “focused transdisciplinary approach” allows research to navigate complexity and engage with issues while constantly reminding us of the origins of the investigative process in which the study is conducted.

Affiliations: 1: Centre of African Studies, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


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