What Is Religion?: Debating the Academic Study of Religion

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Controversies over how to define the word "religion" have persisted for decades. It is a term of art and of academic study, but also one of governance, technologies, and of networks; it is a concept whose diversity is often its own worst enemy. "Religion" is as much a fuzzy set of conceptualizations and generalizations about a range of human activities as it is an authorizing system of persons, ideas, and practices.

What is Religion?: Debating the Academic Study of Religion invites readers to eavesdrop on scholarly debates over the limits of, and uses for, a word commonly used but infrequently defined in a precise manner. This volume takes the temperature of the modern field of Religious Studies by inviting a diverse group of scholars to offer their own substantive contribution that builds on the shared opening prompt, "Religion is...". Their essays document the current state of the field and its various sub-fields, assess the progress that has been made over the past generation, and propose new directions for future work. Seventeen of the international field's leading scholars show how they work with each other's definition, or, sometimes, the lack of a definition. Of interest to students, scholars, and general readers alike, What is Religion? will provoke debate and provide insights into the state of the field.

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