Special Issue "Ethnography and Theology"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Todd D. Whitmore

Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame, 130 Malloy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 574-631-6407
Interests: ethnography and theology; social theory; catholic social teaching

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The disciplines of anthropology and theology have long been at loggerheads. The clash between anthropologists and Christian missionaries in the field, long-held assumptions in the discipline of anthropology in investigating the cultures of religious others, theology’s reactive stance towards perceived encroachment in its domain of the human, and institutionally-structured disciplinary defensiveness have all played a role in this impasse. In the past decade or so, there have been openings on both sides of the divide. To date, most of the conversations have been between specifically Christian theology and anthropology. The aim of the present Special Issue of Religions is to build on those conversations and to extend them to the Abrahamic religions of Islam and Judaism as well with these and other questions: What can ethnography—a grounded method of investigation—contribute to theology, which, in the academic setting, is primarily speculative and abstract? Can, in turn, theological interpretations and understandings of particular events and cosmology broaden the hermeneutical repertoire of the discipline of anthropology? Should there be experiments in moving even further than disciplinary rapprochement and interdisciplinary borrowing (as difficult as these are) to genres that mix the disciplines? If so, what might an anthropological theology or a theological ethnography look like? And what are the liabilities of such mixed genres?

Dr. Todd D. Whitmore
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Keywords

  • Islam
  • Muslim
  • theology
  • anthropology
  • ethnography

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Occupying the Ontological Penumbra: Towards a Postsecular and Theologically Minded Anthropology
Religions 2017, 8(5), 80; doi:10.3390/rel8050080
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 10 April 2017 / Accepted: 24 April 2017 / Published: 28 April 2017
PDF Full-text (253 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the wake of the postsecular turn, we propose to reappraise both the religious as studied in anthropology and how anthropologists who have religious or spiritual interests can contribute to an emerging postsecular anthropology. Such an anthropology recognizes the failure of secularization theory
[...] Read more.
In the wake of the postsecular turn, we propose to reappraise both the religious as studied in anthropology and how anthropologists who have religious or spiritual interests can contribute to an emerging postsecular anthropology. Such an anthropology recognizes the failure of secularization theory to dissolve the dichotomy between the religious and the secular. We propose that as anthropologists we consciously occupy the ontological penumbra, an ambiguous and plural space in which we engage with various counterparts, both human and nonhuman. This means that we have to be open to the real possibility of the existence of gods, spirits, and other nonhuman entities. These should not only be treated as subjects of study, but also recognized as valid counterparts with whom we can engage in the ethnographic encounter. While this necessitates relinquishing the former privileged position of secular and Western epistemology, it opens up the discipline to a potentially unprecedented ethnographic productivity that is epistemologically and ontologically innovative. Without neglecting its secular heritage, such a theologically minded postsecular anthropology places anthropology in a better position to explore what it is to be human, especially in terms of understanding religious and spiritual experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethnography and Theology)

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