What Are You Doing Saturday?

buttonsfromtheedge2The Culture on the Edge collective frequently addresses the relevance of various questions about origins, identifications, and discourse that reflect issues in Religious Studies, but we apply those questions to aspects of society not typically identified as religious. These ideas are a part of a Culture on the Edge panel at the Southeast Regional AAR/SECSOR meeting this coming weekend in Atlanta. Vaia Touna and Steven Ramey will participate in a panel on Saturday March 5 entitled “Culture on the Edge Grounded and Applied: The Wider Relevance of the Study of Religion”. If you are planning to attend the conference or happen to be close enough to show up on Saturday, we would love to chat with you and hear your thoughts on applying issues in Religious Studies more broadly. Continue reading “What Are You Doing Saturday?”

That Wasn’t the Statue of Liberty: On Expectations and Labels

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My family recently traveled to New York City. If you’re familiar with LaGuardia, our destination airport, you know that it is situated in such a way that it often gives airline passengers a nice shot of Manhattan and other noteworthy sights as they descend.

Upon our own descent, an interesting series of utterances escaped from my seven year old son, for whom this was his first visit to the city. Before the trip we had discussed some of the things that we would do while there, and as he looked out the window as the plane grew closer and closer to the earth, in his mind every span of trees became Central Park, every large skyscraper was the Empire State Building, and every island was Ellis Island, with the Statue of Liberty just too small to see because we were so high, he inferenced. Continue reading “That Wasn’t the Statue of Liberty: On Expectations and Labels”

On Anachronism

bourdieuThis is part of a collection of posts of quotations from The Sociologist and the Historian, (first published in French in 2010 and in English in 2015), a short collection of transcripts from a series of late 1987/early 1988 radio interviews between Roger Chartier and the late social theorist, Pierre Bourdieu.

I believe that one of the contributions of my work … has been to turn the scientific gaze onto science itself. For example, to take occupational classifications as the object of analysis instead of using them without hesitation or reflection. The paradox is that historians, for example … often show an extraordinary naivety in their use of categories. For example, it is impossible to conduct longitudinal statistical studies comparing the status of medical doctors from the eighteenth century through to our day — perhaps I’m inventing this example — without being clear that the notion of a ‘doctor’ is a historical construction that has constantly changed. It is the very categories with which the historic object is constructed that should be the object of a historical analysis.

The same pertains in relation to the terms with which we speak about reality. ‘Politics,’ for example, is completely a historically constituted notion, constituted very recently; the world of what I call the political field is practically an invention of the nineteenth century. You could discuss — I don’t want to go out on a limb, being faced here with a redoubtable historian — but I believe that all these notions, all the words and concepts that we employ to conceptualize history, are themselves historically constituted; and strangely, historians are actually the most apt to fall into anachronism since, whether to seem modern or to make their work more interesting, or out of negligence, they employ words that are currently used to speak of realities within which these words were not current, or else had a different meaning. I believe that this reflexivity is extremely important. (11-12)

Listen to the original radio broadcast, in French, here.
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On Social Analysis

Brubaker Cites quote

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Image credit: “Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at Tralee Co Kerry” by Godo Godaj (CC-BY-2.0) via Flickr, quote and background added.

Who Are You? I’m Vaia and Touna

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Who Are You?” is an ongoing series that asks members of Culture on the Edge to reflect on one of their own many identities (whether national, gendered, racial, familial, etc.), theorizing at the same time the self-identification that they each chose to discuss.

Who we are comes with a name and mine is Vaia, or better said, Vaia Touna. It’s interesting that the name that we come to think that is so much part of who we are was chosen and given to us by others, most likely by our parents. Who we are and how we perceive ourselves is certainly socially constructed, that is, there is nothing inherent in the name we are given, for think about how much teaching and training was involved until we learned to respond to this specific name. Continue reading “Who Are You? I’m Vaia and Touna”