“Of And and Of : Th e Politics of Grammar and the Study of Religion” Th omas B. Ellis Appalachian State University Abstract Grammatical constructions in course titles and research agendas reﬂ ect particular theoretical orientations in the study of religion. Privileging one construction over the others amounts to a politics of grammar. Two constructions are examined here—the conjunction and the genitive: “Religion and . . .” and “. . . of Religion.” Whereas non-reductive methods such as theology/phe- nomenology and cultural anthropology endorse the conjunction, reductive methodologies such as biological anthropology invoke the genitive. With the evidence amassing in favor of natural, human universals ( pace cultural anthropology) and against supernatural realities ( pace theology/ phenomenology), the essay argues that only the genitive construction has a place in the study of religion. Keywords politics of grammar; theology; phenomenology; anthropology; methodological agnosticism; strong agnosticism; naturalism I’d like to begin with an anecdote. Th e academic year was 2001-2002 and I was laboring through my ﬁnal two semesters as a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Having had the opportunity to teach several courses over the many years spent in graduate school,
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
Keywords: STRONG AGNOSTICISM; POLITICS OF GRAMMAR; NATURALISM; THEOLOGY; METHODOLOGICAL AGNOSTICISM; ANTHROPOLOGY; PHENOMENOLOGY
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