An Undisciplined Space: Interdisciplinarity as a Method in the Study of Religion
Liberal Studies Department
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Arts and Humanities
With the recent appearance of The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion, editors Michael Stausberg and Steven Engler performed an invaluable service to students and scholars of religion by compiling the first comprehensive survey in English of research methods in the field of religious studies (ii). In the section on Methods twenty different approaches to study are described reflecting the variety of ways that religion can be considered and attesting to the creative breadth and possibility in scholarship. But, there is an important omission. Nowhere is interdisciplinarity discussed in relationship to the study of religion. In her contribution to The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity, scholar Sarah Fredericks noted, religious studies itself is inherently multi- and interdisciplinary (161). But in terms of the methods of interdiscipinarity, how is this so? In what ways can approaching the study of religion through the lens of interdisiciplinarity take Religious Studies in new directions? How can it help both the direction of our field in the 21st century and its relevance to a new century marked by the need to understand this aspect of human existence? For example, interdisciplinaritys methods are used for pragmatic, real world problems best addressed in the spaces in-between the universitys traditional disciplines; and, it arose in part out of the inadequacies of the ways that social sciences organize knowledge of certain human activities and challenges. This parallels the rise of the study of religion in the 20th century and hints at ways the academy can assist the public sphere in addressing issues we currently face. This presentation, an extension of the authors research work and developing methodology, will analyze the affinities between interdisciplinarity and the study of religion with a particular emphasis on the way that understanding interdisciplinarity structurally and historically provides concepts and processes for another research method in religious studies.
AAR Midwest Regional Annual Conference
Northern Ohio University, Ada, OH
Smith, Brent A., "An Undisciplined Space: Interdisciplinarity as a Method in the Study of Religion" (2014). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 752.
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