By Matt Sheedy
This is part-one 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.
Before detailing some of my disagreements with this essay, I should say that I was happy to see this article in print as it signals the relevance of what some have called Critical Religion (CR) in our discipline and offers an important opportunity for clarification and further debate. Too often, I feel, we forget that the ultimate aim of scholarship is to advance knowledge and not simply ‘win’ an argument, whatever that may mean in the short term. As someone interested in the idea of Critical Religion and who is trained in Critical Theory (of the Frankfurt School and post-structuralist varieties), I approach this essay as a chance to think more carefully about the aims, influences, and effects of these debates. Continue reading “Critical Religion and the Critical Study of Religion: A Response to Galen Watts and Sharday Mosurinjohn, Part 1”
Just published: Hijacked: A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion, edited by Leslie Dorrough Smith, Steffen Führding, and Adrian Hermann (Equinox, 2020).
This volume is not only co-edited by our own Leslie Dorrough Smith, but also features contributions from Edge members Christopher R. Cotter, Russell T. McCutcheon, Martha Smith Roberts, Matt Sheedy, Merinda Simmons, and Vaia Touna. Be sure to check it out!!
Culture on the Edge member Merinda Simmons has recently published a co-edited volume with Houston Baker, The Trouble with Post-Blackness. Marginalia, a channel of LA Review of Books this week featured an interview with Merinda discussing the volume . Culture on the Edge is doubly involved in this interview, as colleague Monica Miller is one of the hosts in the Conversations in Black series at Marginalia.
Culture on the Edge was founded in early 2012 as a small research group, comprised of scholars with very different specialties, aiming to produce original research that not only invited readers to rethink how to study identity but also demonstrated how scholars who understand religion to be an ordinary cultural element could also have interesting things to say about other aspects of culture and history. Because books take a little longer to produce than do blog posts, it is worth bearing in mind that this academic blog — begun a year after the group formed — is only one of several venues for publicizing the group’s research.
We’re therefore pleased to announce several volumes that are due out in the coming year, all from Equinox Publishers — an independent UK publisher known for works on theory.
Click the descriptions below to learn more about each volume. Continue reading “Forthcoming from the Edge”
A while back a couple Edge posts appeared on the topic of “code switching” (Merinda’s post is here and Monica’s is here). Listening to NPR this morning I heard a story on the NSA’s use of codewords for its various clandestine projects — how it follows longstanding conventions in writing them as one word and in all caps, like SHARKFINN, KEYSTONE, or DISHFIRE — and that made me think again on the topic of code switching. Continue reading ““They’ve Given You a Number and Taken Away Your Name””
“What Justice Kennedy has undertaken in this initial statement of fact, or more properly, of data, that is to say, facts accepted for purposes of the argument…”
– Jonathan Z. Smith, “God Save This Honourable Court” (Relating Religion, p. 382)
While she was on our campus a few weeks ago, I noticed Monica Miller using the word “data” to refer to the things that she studied — things such as African American religion, scholars of African American religion, rap lyrics, and rap artists — and so I asked her a question or two about what she thought was entailed in that word and why she seemingly opted for it rather purposefully in both her public lecture, the evening before, and then during an informal lunchtime discussion with our students the next day. And then, just the other day, Leslie Smith posted on this site, using this four-lettered word in her post’s title — a use that did not go unnoticed by some on Facebook who soon were debating what was termed the dehumanizing effects of such objectifying terminology. Continue reading “Using Four-Lettered Words: Part One”
Monica Miller, of Lehigh University and member of Culture on the Edge, recently delivered the inaugural Day Lecture in Tuscaloosa, AL. Merinda Simmons, also of the Edge and a professor at the University of Alabama, sat down and talked with Monica, about her work and the field of the study of religion.