Connecting Fitzgerald and Latour for the Sake of Democratic Religious Studies



Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Implicit Religion
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Timothy Fitzgerald; Bruno Latour; religious studies; religion; symmetrical approach; actor-network-theory
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Description There is a theoretical and methodological toolbox for the postcolonial, i.e. truly democratic, religious studies which is available and ready for use. Through it, the discipline can drop the analytical categories of "religion" and "belief" completely from its vocabulary. Timothy Fitzgerald's criticism of the colonising rhetorical structure of “religion” can thus be carried into its consequences. This was made possible by redesigning a social science methodology within the study of science and technology. Bruno Latour and his colleagues refined it by employing achievements of ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism. This paper demonstrates how to transplant this symmetrical approach to religious studies. Their distinctiveness won’t be lost if religion remains in the background as a completely vague horizon-idea arranging the range of heterogeneous interests of various scholars in the field together. Its etic (theoretical) use, however, must be strictly prohibited in order to foster the elaboration of precise descriptive language capturing the exact components operating in the ordering processes under scrutiny.
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