Introduction: Religion as Relation

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    Abstract

    To elucidate the various ways of approaching the subject matter, this introductory chapter will first outline three different modes of defining religion. In some cultures and historical periods, the category of religion may be alien to the context that is studied. Nevertheless, the phenomenon in question is part of a body of thought and practices that is now identified as religious. How did these phenomena come to be studied as ‘religion’ in that tradition? What is the history of such definitions? We will then address the issue of theory: what is it, and why do you need it? We will also introduce some basic distinctions in levels of analysis that we think are useful to navigate our way through the conversations across disciplinary boundaries that often take place within religious studies. Another issue that will be addressed is the relationship of the researcher to the religious context: should one be a ‘believer’ to understand religion? Or is the category of belief itself problematic? This question is a variation of the ‘insider/outsider’ discussion in anthropology, and our discussion will thus draw heavily on these discussions. In closing, we give an outline of the book and how the chapters relate to the central question of how religion is studied.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationReligion as Relation
    Subtitle of host publicationStudying Religion in Context
    EditorsPeter Berger, Marjo Buitelaar, Kim Knibbe
    PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd.
    Chapter1
    Pages1-50
    Number of pages50
    ISBN (Electronic)9781800500716
    ISBN (Print)9781800500693, 9781800500709
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2021

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