In this interview Associate Professor Will Sweetman talks to Thomas White about the idea that ‘Hinduism’ and many of the other terms we use to classify religions—including the term religion itself—are modern inventions, emerging out of nineteenth-century inter-cultural contact and European colonialism. Will argues against this critique, and to make his case he draws on historical sources that discuss ‘Hinduism’ both outside of the anglophone experience and long before the nineteenth century. Through identifying alternative, non-anglophone sources of cross-cultural, West-East encounters, where comparative religion is the subject of reflection and description, the concept of ‘Hinduism’ is presented as obtaining a much richer history than the ‘invention thesis’ allows.
The African American Spiritual Churches are combinatory religious sites, which blend Protestant, Catholic, Spiritualist, Haitian Voodoo, and Benin’s traditional Vodun practices. Female leadership and business management has been essential in the history of these churches. Dr. Guillory’s upcoming book draws on years of archival research, ethnographic observation, and oral history interviews to tell the story of these churches from 1920 to the present day. Hurricane Katrina looms large in this story. Most of the physical churches were destroyed in the flooding — or the former inhabitants were not allowed to return as the government began eminent domain proceedings. Yet this religious community endures.
A Response to Wesley J. Wildman on “Modelling Religion and the Integration of the Sciences and the Humanities in the Bio-cultural Study of Religion”
By Leonardo Ambasciano
In this interview, we discuss yoga as a new American phenomenon and the way that some evangelical Christians practice it. Brown provides a historic overview of bodily–religious practices in America, starting with mesmerism, occultism, osteopathy, and chiropractic in the nineteenth century. These practices challenged the standard “heroic” model of medicine: Instead of the patient experiencing torturous medical treatments, a practitioner simply realigns the patient’s body or does a quick procedure. Such bodily practices blurred, in some cases, with Pentecostal and Holiness Christians’ use of prayer as a medical treatment.
What is a discursive approach to the study of religion? And how can it answer the crises of contemporary RS? Kocku von Stuckrad tells David Robertson in this week’s RSP podcast.
In his interview with Sidney Castillo, Dr. Luis Millones discusses some of the traditions that have formed the basis for his research, particularly in the northern coast, northern highlands and south highlands of Peru. He mentions that, with the impact of colonization, many of the indigenous beliefs were replaced or mixed (to some extent), in order to facilitate the installation of a status quo that incorporated many of the ethnic groups’s beliefs (among other, more ‘earthly’ institutions) that were present prior to the Spaniards’ arrival (Millones 2005).
The Religious Studies Project, as an academic endeavour studying religion, is of course devoutly secular. In fact, we tend to take the connection between secularity and the academy completely for granted. But was this always the case? If not, how did it become so? And what does secular mean in this context?
In this interview, Milad Milani discusses the basic orientation and history of Sufi thought. He also speaks about the diverse national variations of Sufism, particularly with respect to Iranian (or “Persianate”) Sufism. The interview concludes with a few critical remarks on the questionable appropriation of Sufism in contemporary Western discourses on religion.
In what sense can a country be “Christian”? Today on the Religious Studies Project, we welcome back Professor Linda Woodhead to discuss and interrogate the question “Is Britain Still a Christian Country?”, the topic of her recent Croall Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.
Calls for papers
Conference: In Search of the Origins of Religions
September 11–13, 2015
Deadline: March 1, 2015
More information (French, English)
Conference: Second Undegraduate Conference on Religion and Culture
March 28, 2015
Syracuse, NY, USA
Deadline: February 15, 2015
Symposium: Society for the Study of Religion and Transhumanism (SSRT)
Professor Peter Harrison discusses the false historical assumptions behind the current perception that “science” and “religion” have always been in conflict. Providing a wide-ranging historical overview, Harrison begins with the early interplay between religious institutions and scientific activity, goes through the transitions from Newton to Darwin, and then reflects on how the solidification of the false “conflict” narrative has played out in the past half-century. Peter Harrison is currently Director of the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland, and was formerly at the University of Oxford as the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion.
Conference report by Josip Matesic, PhD Candidate, University of Wollongong
The University of Queensland hosted last month (8-10 July) the biennial conference of the Religious History Association (RHA). The conference itself was one stream of a larger conference: the annual conference for the Australian Historical Association (AHA) (7-11 July). The theme
Professor Michael Cook, winner of the Holberg Prize 2014, has had a huge influence on the historical study of Islam. In this episode, Knut interviews Professor Cook about his decision to go into history in the first place, about his writing process, the role of the humanities, his reflections about teaching, and why he finds it so important to get the details right.
Carlo Ginzburg is professor emeritus in History of European Cultures in Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. A distinguished historian with a remarkable career, Ginzburg is known for his microhistorical research approach. His most well-known book The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth Century Miller follows clues from seemingly small and inconsequential cases and details, in order to illuminate the bigger picture, the richness and complexity of historical phenomena.
Brent Nongbri talks to Jack Tsonis about his recent book, “Before Religion: a History of a Modern Concept”. Nongbri provides an overview of the history of “religion” as a concept in the English speaking world, highlighting that the seemingly “natural” or “obvious” definition of the term is actually highly specific to the modern West. Nongbri suggests that awareness of this history should make people consider carefully the language that they use to describe human behaviour, especially when dealing with cultures that fall outside the scope of “European modernity”.