© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/157006810X512338 Method and Th eory in the Study of Religion 22 (2010) 136-155 brill.nl/mtsr M E T H O D T H E O R Y in the S T U D Y O F R E L I G I O N & Talal Asad’s ‘Religion’ Trouble and a Way Out Ivan Strenski Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract By this point, almost everyone is familiar with Talal Asad’s assault on the “religion” category. Despite his inﬂ uence, Asad’s criticisms tend to oscillate between two mutually exclusive posi- tions. I shall argue that Asad’s incoherence is instructive for the ﬁ eld as a whole. Th e study of religion would be better oﬀ constructing useful and revisable deﬁ nitions of “religion” rather than abandoning the category all together. Keywords Talal Asad, religion, eliminationism, comparativism, Wilfrid Cantwell Smith, Cliﬀ ord Geertz, authority, Tim Fitzgerald, Emile Durkheim No discussion of the category “religion” would be complete without attention to the most prominent, sophisticated, although elusive, critic of that term, anthropologist, Talal Asad. In this paper, I shall underline this very elusiveness in Asad’s thinking
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2010
Keywords: comparativism; Wilfrid Cantwell Smith; Talal Asad; religion; Clifford Geertz; Tim Fitzgerald; eliminationism; Emile Durkheim; authority
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