By Matt Sheedy
This is part-two of a two-part response to Watts and Mosurinjohn’s essay “Can Critical Religion Play by Its Own Rules? Why There Must Be More Ways to Be ‘Critical’ in the Study of Religion,” which recently appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. See part 1 here.
Critique #3. The claim that ‘CR’ scholars set up a false dichotomy by upholding their own position as etic (i.e. as objective outsiders), while deeming others as emic (i.e. as subjective insiders) is based on a misinterpretation. Continuing with the example of colonialism that I outlined in Critique #2, Watts and Mosurinjohn claim, with reference to the work of McCutcheon: Continue reading “Critical Religion and the Critical Study of Religion: A Response to Galen Watts and Sharday Mosurinjohn, Part 2”
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”