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Dr. Fairen - Religious Studies Theories and Methods 26

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Religious Studies
Glen Fairen

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200 ORIENTALISM and the Representation of the Other Moving on from dead white guys. Colonialism is imbued in the study of religion. A colony can only trade with its mother country, generally. A knowledge and consciousness of colonialism helps us understand the study of religions. Colonial terms, and their political import, is how we came to understand what religion gets to be. Representations - the reason we all attribute the same meanings to certain objects is because we share webs of meaning amongst us - an apple can suggest Adam and Eve, macintosh, newton (gravity), etc. - language - facial expressions Language in the functionalist sense is anything that allows pwople to communicate with one another or conveys meanings. different theories of representation: CONSTRUCTIONALISTAPPROACH - a clear distinction between the raw, physical stuff in the world and the meanings we attribute it. - religion, for example, had a sense of independence and natural identity when coming into this class. - apple has no inherent link to gravity or knowledge of good and evil etc - human communities slowly over time develop systems of meaning and representation that overlay the world and communities reinforce these systems of meaning everytime they use them, whether it is the maple leaf or the english language. words transform ie gay representations need to to be constantly refuelled by use and commonality representations are not innocent, they are tied to power. no one is beat up for being straight... many -isms are set up to challenge or vilify popular representations ie feminism, racism ORIENTALISM - the study of the orient. the word has lost traction but the method is still there. - orient was everything east and bit south of europe. - North Africa, Middle East, india, china, japan, and so on. - in 1978, a palestinian-american scholar anmed Edward Said published a book called Orientalis▯ - 'the orient' is this monolithic and 'not like' the 'west' entity, took contradictory forms - this book changed the meaning of the word. - what is called the orient is only functional for the west for differentiating themselves and elevating their view of themselves by depicting everyone else as weird. - using the orient as a place for imagining alternative ways of being - the orient wa
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