The Evidence of Experience

scottJoan Wallach Scott, the well known historian, wrote a provocative and lengthy essay on the manner in which social historians and many area specialists have mistakenly drawn upon experience as if it was the evidence/starting point for their work (that is, material culture is seen an expression of a prior experience) rather than problematizing how public claims of having had an experience are themselves social and historical products. The essay was published in Critical Inquiry 17/4 (1991): 773-797 and is posted online as a PDF. Those wishing to rethink identity studies will benefit from this essay.

Learn more about Scott’s recent book on the politics of the issue of Muslim women and veils here.

Religion is Nothing Special

Picture 3The anthropologist, Maurice Bloch, published an important article in 2008 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B [Biological Sciences], 363: 2055–2061; critiquing recent energy spent on developing an evolutionary, cognitive science theory of religion, it opens the way toward working not on a theory of religion but, instead, taking that which we normally call religion as but an instance of a wider, mundane, but no less interesting cognitive event that we might simply call signification–which itself ought to be the object of our studies.

Obtain a free PDF of the article at the publisher’s website here.

 

Everything Old is New Again in Thessaloniki

junkAn interesting video was posted earlier today by the British newspaper The Guardian, a film which is part of the Energy Bits documentary initiative. It is on a very interesting Greek “upcycling” project/business in Thessaloniki, in which found objects (from the garbage or junk yards) are transformed by artists, architects, etc., into rather cool, usable things. Continue reading “Everything Old is New Again in Thessaloniki”

Imagining Identity

OldSpoolOfThreadWhat if we, as scholars, told the following narrative? In the first century there was a man named Jesus who invented a magical spool of invisible thread. He carried the spool with him everywhere he traveled as an itinerant preacher. When those who heard his message accepted it, he would magically partition the invisible thread, handing an end to each new follower. Jesus’ disciples each carried an end of this invisible thread, and everywhere they went they too distributed it. Like the loaves and the fishes Jesus is said to have multiplied to feed the masses, so was the thread multiplied and divided—like a complicated spider web—across the face of the ancient Mediterranean world. In fact, the thread stretched not only across space but across time as well, although it has been divided innumerable times over the last two millennia. Contemporary followers of Jesus in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches hold the thread today at its various temporal and spatial termini. Continue reading “Imagining Identity”

BET News Post

betnewsIn her latest piece, Monica Miller discusses Dr. Carl L. Hart’s new book that addresses issues on drugs and society. Read her post “Commentary: The High Price of the War on Drugs” on BET.com here.

The Alchemy of Circumstances

novelAfter quoting from Maria Iordanidu‘s novel, Loxandra (c. 1963)–a novel set in the early 19th century in the city then known as Constantinople–concerning an episode in which an otherwise unassuming shopkeeper is questioned by the protagonist as to whether he had participated in the massacre of Armenians–Jean-Francois Bayart goes on: Continue reading “The Alchemy of Circumstances”

Takin’ It to the Streets

churchsignIt’s sort of interesting to see how an apparently counter-intuitive model of identity uncontroversially (and probably unintentionally) finds its way into everyday life.

Consider, for example, the above church sign that I snapped on my way back from walking my dog this past weekend. Continue reading “Takin’ It to the Streets”

HuffPost Blog

huffpostSteven Ramey occasionally writes blog posts for HuffPost Religion. Read his latest blog “Constitutional Freedoms and Defining Religion” here.

“Anchors Away!: Or, Can the Subaltern Get a Soundbite?”

Something interesting happened when famous comic bad boy Russell Brand showed up for an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and it’s been making the rounds online ever since.  Hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the morning show is made of a roundtable of pundits and talking heads, mostly discussing politics and current events while making daily dips into pop culture.  And while the co-hosts certainly have their soapboxes (Mika has famously made a second job out of railing against obesity, and Joe was a state representative, for crying out loud), they pride themselves on being serious reporters interested in providing a balance of perspectives when talking about an issue. Continue reading ““Anchors Away!: Or, Can the Subaltern Get a Soundbite?””

Marginalia Review of Books

marginalia

Monica Miller has recently joined Marginalia Review of Books as a contributing editor. Marginalia provides substantive reviews on academic literature concerning history and religion within various fields of study. Miller’s primary role will be helping to develop reviews, essays, and op-eds concerning the intersection of religion and popular music and also identity in the study of religion.