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Working in Between

Interdisciplinary and Multivalent Approaches to the Study of Religion

Hillary Kaell

issues. With regard to disciplines, we ask whether religious studies is, in fact, a discipline or a broader field of interest. On the definition of religion, we have embraced what anthropologist Henry Goldschmidt (2009: 550) calls “a kind of [social

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Negotiating the Nation in History

The Swedish State Approval Scheme for Textbooks and Teaching Aids from 1945 to 1983

Henrik Åström Elmersjö

, history, and religious studies) that were perceived as central for the teaching of these subjects were scrutinized. The approval scheme operated under its own authority between 1948 and 1974. Before 1948 and after 1974 it operated under the authority of

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Sinophobia, American Imperialism, Disorder Without Responsibility

Shuchen Xiang

Abstract

This paper argues that Sinophobia and its relationship to American imperialism can be understood through Jean-Paul Sartre's analysis of anti-Semitism, which is characterized by an evasive attitude. Under this attitude, the bivalent values of good and evil are pre-existing ontological properties such that the agent promotes the good insofar as she destroys evil. This evasive attitude can also be seen in the economy of the American empire. Revenue for the which exists through undermining the economies of non-pliant states, selling weapons and a disaster-capitalist industry that profits from the chaos that is created. The idea that the states to be imperialized are bivalent others both motivates and justifies this behavior whereby the agent evades self-critique and the need to cultivate her own value.

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Religion in the National Historical Narrative of the Early Modern Times in Contemporary Ukrainian Schooling

Tetiana Shevchenko

This article deals with religious discourse in modern history school textbooks in Ukraine that cover early modern times in Ukrainian history. It analyzes the place of religious discourse within national discourse, the correlation between local Ukrainian religious and more general discourse, and the representation of the relationships between Christian churches. Further, it defines a methodological approach and assesses the accuracy of facts presented in textbooks as well as the interpretation of religious life, normative language, and denominational labeling. It demonstrates the discrepancy between the achievements of academic historiography and school history, including the isolated and exclusive nature of history discourse in Ukrainian schools today.

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A Failed Attempt to Create an International Community of Communist Asian Studies in 1955

Huaiyu Chen

Abstract

East German sinologists organized an international conference on East Asian studies in Leipzig in October 1955, bringing together scholars from most communist states and several scholars from Western Europe. This conference served to unite sinologists from both the Communist Bloc and West Germany in the early Cold War era. Since the Chinese delegation was particularly honored, this article suggests that China expanded its political influence in East Europe after the Korean War and the death of Stalin, which prompted a tension within the international communist community, especially between China and the Soviet Union. Moreover, this conference demonstrated a strong “modern turn” in the rising field of Asian studies, sinology in particular, because of the rise of the People's Republic of China in the 1950s.

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From Villainous Letch and Sinful Outcast, to “Especially Beloved of God”

Complicating the Medieval Leper through Gender and Social Status

Christina Welch and Rohan Brown

Abstract

This article explores the socio-religious construction of the medieval “ideal” leper; a male pedagogical symbol of social and moral status and a figure in a physical and spiritual state of liminality, where their physical decay was a sign of their moral corruption. It argues that within vernacular literature, and theology, the medieval male leper was typically perceived as an outcast experiencing social death before succumbing to the slow degeneration of the disease. Typically conceived, and represented as lusty and carnal, the “ideal” male leper wore his own sin as physical deformity as a result of the close theological interpretation of the body and the soul. However, once his spiritual and physical contagion was contained within a leprosaria (a leper hospital), he could be perceived as a semi-holy figure, living out his purgatorial punishment on earth. Living out his purgation and segregated from his former communities, the article contests that the once frightening and sinful medieval male leper could transform his social status, becoming “especially beloved by God.”

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Beyond the Glittering Golden Buddha Statues

Difference and Self-transformation through Buddhist Volunteer Tourism in Thailand

Brooke Schedneck

Abstract

Volunteer tourism is becoming an important way to understand and experience culture. In Thailand, one option for volunteers is to teach English to novice monks in Buddhist temple schools. These volunteers choose to live in a Buddhist temple in order to experience difference through the religious atmosphere and interact with Buddhist monks. The aesthetic environment is unique and awe-inspiring to this group. However, through interviews and analysis of travel writing, this article argues that the unexpected also has a role in generating self-transformation. Beyond the golden, glittering Buddha statues are Buddhist novice monks who become not just representatives of Thai culture but particular individuals. Volunteers discuss their own transformation as a result of both the expected difference and unexpected familiarity they encounter within the temple communities where they teach.

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God Does Not Play Dice with the Universe, or Does He?

Anthropological Interlocutions of Sport and Religion

Thomas F. Carter

Religion has been a central object of anthropological inquiry since its earliest days. In contrast, sport has remained an ancillary object of interest at best. Nonetheless, anthropologists have written some provocative analyses that challenge other disciplinary approaches to sport. Principally, those analyses emerged out of anthropological approaches to religion. Concerned with the ways in which anthropology theorizes and analyzes both religion and sport, this article begins by assessing the modern-day myth that 'sport is a religion'. It then compares subject-specific approaches to the relationships between sport and religion. The article then moves to the anthropological focus on ritual as it developed in the study of religion and how those ideas were then applied to analyses of sport. The article concludes with an examination of how the anthropology of sport has moved beyond those initial efforts before discussing various anthropological approaches to sport and religion.

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Antagonistic Insights

Evolving Soviet Atheist Critiques of Religion and Why They Matter for Anthropology

Sonja Luehrmann

This article offers a critique of the common notion in contemporary anthropology that a positive attitude toward the people under study is a necessary precondition for a sophisticated understanding of their social world. The empirical sociology of religion that evolved during the last decades of the Soviet Union's existence started from the premise that religion was a harmful phenomenon slated for disappearance. Nonetheless, atheist sociologists produced increasingly complex accounts of religious life in modern socialist societies. Their ideological framework simultaneously constrained Soviet scholars and forced them to pay closer attention to religious phenomena that contradicted political expectations. Drawing on this extreme example of militant atheist scholarship, I argue that studying 'repugnant cultural others' always requires some form of affective motivation. Antagonism can be as powerful, and as problematic, a motivating force as empathetic suspension of judgment.

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Portrait

Talal Asad

Talal Asad, Jonathan Boyarin, Nadia Fadil, Hussein Ali Agrama, Donovan O. Schaefer, and Ananda Abeysekara

.” Critical Inquiry 42 ( 1 ): 166 – 214 . https://doi.org/10.1086/683002 Talal Asad's Challenge to Religious Studies Donovan O. Schaefer It's a rare thing when thinkers not only transform their own fields of study, but also have a deep