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RLG201H5 Study Guide - Final Guide: Sui Generis, Cultural Relativism, Agnosticism

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points reflect directly on issues:
Religion is studied as a human ac%vity. In short, religion is a part
of culture. The term refers to a wide range of ac%vi%es which are
part of, not separate from, the prac%ce of culture and everyday life.
The study of such ‘religion’ is concerned with what humans do,
the texts and other cultural products they produce, and the
statements and assump%ons they make. In this sense it is
something that is done, not something that does – religious ac%vity
(‘religioning’), rather than religion.
Religion’ is a not a sui generis category, that is, it does not exist as
a ‘thing’ in itself (a point I will discuss further in Chapter 5). There is
no essence of ‘religion’. Instead it is a term with a mul%tude of
meanings and references, to be understood with reference to other
human ac%vi%es
There is a strong emphasis on studies with an empirical basis.
Although there are many abstract and philosophical issues raised in
the study of religion and culture, there needs to be some a4empt
to ground such issues in cultural prac%ces in either contemporary
or historical contexts. This requires a par%cular methodological
approach, such as fieldwork, interviewing, surveying, archival
research, or textual analysis, or a combina%on of several of these
The study of religion and culture requires a measure of theore%cal
and methodological rela%vism (or agnos%cism). Although it is,
perhaps, unavoidable, the student should resist the tempta%on to
assert one set of truth claims over any other – whether they are
claims of metaphysical or cultural truth or superiority
As religion is a human ac%vity, the analysis of religion and culture
is the analysis of gender, ethnicity, and other social rela%ons and
categories. Such gender, ethnic, sexual, and religious di7erences
(and experiences) are in turn a product of (and also produce) power
rela%ons. In par%cular,
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