Discourse on the Invention of Discourse: Why We Need the Terminology of “Religion” and “Religions”

  • Discourse on the Invention of Discourse
  • Paul Hedges
  • Journal of Religious History, March 2014, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/1467-9809.12141

What is it about?

Timothy Fitzgerald’s deconstruction of religion occurs at the nexus of Critical Studies and the history of ideas. Set within the context of scholars like Tomoko Masuzawa and Russell McCutcheon it is suggested that his work provides an important aid to reflexivity in Religious Studies scholarship, but that like other deconstructive work in this area it is beset by a number of flaws. In particular, the historical evidence is open to alternative readings that suggest the development of the category religion may be as much about “discovery” as “invention”, while the continued need for Fitzgerald and other scholars to use some term to substitute for religion, such as the “sacred”, shows the continued usefulness of the term as a descriptive tool.

Why is it important?

Explores the much contested term "religion", especially two key books by Prof Timothy Fitzgerald: Timothy Fitzgerald, Discourse on Civility and Barbarity: A Critical History of Religion and Related Categories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Timothy Fitzgerald, The Ideology of Religious Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Paul Hedges