It’s Time to Be Honest With Lauryn Hill

Culture on the Edge participant, Monica Miller, recently posted a blog, “It’s Time to Be Honest With Lauryn Hill,” that concludes:

“Over the years, Hill’s lyrical lessons have jolted many from societal slumber and historical amnesia enough to make her a tour de force of the ‘conscious’ hip hop market. But Hill’s troubling portraits of lifestyles not her own are as problematic as the racism and capitalist systems she’s fought for so many years. As she tries to “…figure out how to pay her own tax debts,” may she also realize the expense imposed by her “existential catharsis” on LGBTQ individuals as they continue to fight for justice for their lives and partnerships. As we love to love Hill, let’s love her enough to be honest with her: Enough with responding to one social injustice by perpetuating another. You’re a better MC than that!”

To which Hill responded.

Touna Presents at Canadian Conferences

vaiacssrconfIn early June 2013, Culture on the Edge’s Vaia Touna presented her research at the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion‘s annual meeting, as well as at the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies–both held in Victoria, BC. The papers–one rethinking the common modern reading of Euripides’s “Hippolytos” as an expression of individualism and the other redescribing the notion of ancient mystery cults, seeing them not as sites for expressing religious experience (as they are usually described by scholars) but as places where marginal members of the city-state were integrated.

Regional AAR President

edgeaarFor 2012-3, Culture on the Edge’s Steven Ramey was President of the Southeastern Region of the American Academy of Religion (part of the Southeast Commission on the Study of Religion, or SECSOR). Visit our blog, Claims, to watch his Presidential Address.

New Books in Religion: Religion and Hip Hop

edgemillerbookCheck out an online interview posted at New Books in Religion with Culture on the Edge’s Monica Miller, about her recent book, Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge, 2012). “She does not perform a theological or religious analysis of music or lyrics as a search for meaning but rather examines the material productions of Hip Hop culture and the manufactured zones of significance within various discourses.”

“Sacred” and “the Sacred”: False Cognates

sacred“Sacred” is an adjective; “the Sacred” is a noun. In The Ideology of Religious Studies, Tim Fitzgerald discusses the adjectival use:

If by ‘sacred’ we mean those things, ideas, places, people, stories, procedures and principles that empirical groups of people value, deem to be constitutive of their collective identity, or will defend to the death, then it seems likely that we have a relatively meaningful crosscultural concept. (19) Continue reading ““Sacred” and “the Sacred”: False Cognates”

Cherry Pickers

On the weekend a Facebook friend posted a link to an interesting blog post on contests over modern Jewish identity. It opened as follows:

edgecherrypicking Continue reading “Cherry Pickers”

Silencing the Past

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Beacon Press, 1995).

A practical series of case studies (e.g., the Hatian Revolution) by the late (d. 2012) University of Chicago Professor of Anthropology/Social Sciences on how discourses on the past are not about recovering or remembering enduring items from history so much as deploying techniques in the present continually to limit what in the archives will count as the past. As such, how does one write a history of the forgotten, “a history of the impossible”–a genealogy of the choices that led to this or that narrative of “the past.”

The Sacred is the Profane

edgesacredistheprofaneRussell McCutcheon, along with his co-author William Arnal, just published a collection of essays entitled The Sacred is the Profane: The Political Nature of “Religion” with Oxford University Press. The book presses forward the thesis that the category “religion” is one of our own group’s ways of classifying, sorting, and thereby understanding the world around us rather than, as is most often thought, being a natural and thus permanent feature of that world.

Culture on the Edge Podcast

relstproj2During its working session in Chicago, in November 2012, the members of Culture on the Edge (pictured below) took some time to record a conversation on identity creation and its study, for The Religious Studies Project (RSP)–a series of podcasts created and maintained by UK grad students that is devoted to the work of scholars of religion from around the world.

Click here to listen to our conversation.

Apart from thanking RSP’s Christopher Cotter and David Robertson for their interest in our work, we would like to thank Andie Alexander, then a student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, for assisting with the technology, and also thank the Department for supporting the group.)

groupedge2

The Yoga of Definition

jzsquoteSo writes Jonathan Z. Smith in his article, “Religion, Religions, Religious,” in Mark Taylor’s well-known edited book, Critical Terms for Religious Studies (1998). Because most scholars presume (mistakenly, I think) religion to exist prior to, and outside of, their studies of it, few understand their definitions to be stipulative–specifying the limits of the object in advance, e.g., “For the purposes of this study, religion is defined as…” Instead, definitions are most often assumed merely to describe, after careful observation, the limits of an already established item in the world that we, as scholars, have somehow just stumbled upon. Continue reading “The Yoga of Definition”