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.
|Title of host publication||Religion as Relation|
|Subtitle of host publication||Studying Religion in Context|
|Editors||Peter Berger, Marjo Buitelaar, Kim Knibbe|
|Publisher||Equinox Publishing Ltd.|
|Number of pages||50|
|ISBN (Print)||9781800500693, 9781800500709|
|Publication status||Published - Oct-2021|