Responding to the Wendy Doniger Controversy

bulletin414Steven Ramey published “Responding to the Wendy Doniger Controversy: The Problems and Possibilities in the Academic Study of Religion“, a follow-up to his posts (here and here) addressing the responses to Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus, in the April 2014 edition of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion.

Differentiating Fields

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S. Brent Plate’s recent post at Religion Dispatches suggests that when it comes to religious studies, scholars are, in a sense, both insiders and outsiders at the same time. He comes to this conclusion through a comparison of the field of art to the field of religious studies. Iconoclasm in art, he suggests, is actually its own sort of iconification (my horrible word, not his). Artist Ai Weiwei, for instance, photographed himself destroying ancient Chinese artifacts. According to Plate, “iconoclasm is itself an iconic act. One image replaces another. Ai was careful to have his iconoclastic act documented, skillfully shot on camera and reproduced for many to see.” Recently another artist publicly smashed some of Ai’s art in an art gallery, where the act appeared to be partly protest and partly performance art. Iconoclasm is yet again a new iconification. Outsiders who are critical of the tradition are at the same time insiders, extending the tradition in new ways. Plate concludes that, “Tradition is itself a series of creative and destructive acts, stability and instability; the icons are the tradition as much as the images of iconoclasm. Nothing stays the same.” Continue reading “Differentiating Fields”

“The Nones” — Again

riseofthenonesInterested in the responses of the Edge‘s own Steven Ramey and Monica Miller to previous commentaries on their work on “the Nones”?
Then try here.


Talk of the Town

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Mike Altman, who teaches at the University of Alabama’s Department of Religious Studies, has been reading our recent exchanges on the use of the word “data.” In fact, he’s proposed that a working group at the American Academy of Religion, devoted to technology in the Humanities, think a little about their own use of the term.

Learn more here.


pencil-eraserThere’s been a series of commentaries online recently on the topic of using the term “data” when naming the (what shall we call “it”?) …, stuff that we, as scholars, study — commentaries driven by worries, in many cases, that this word erases the inherent worth and humanity of the people so named. The members of Culture on the Edge tackled this topic both here and here, all in favor of an informed/specific use of this technical term, and a more diverse group of responses also appeared at the Bulletin blog (here and then also here). Continue reading “Erased”

A Critical Question

Over at the blog for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Merinda Simmons has been among those invited to respond to their query about the line–if any–between scholarship and politics.