In Religion, a distinctive methodology - ‘Critical Religion’- is deployed to interrogate the historical construction and limitations of the term itself, and to ask positive but searching questions about the place of religious discourse - and discourse on religion - in contemporary societies. This approach yields valuable insights for the various research specialisms in the grouping, with stimulating interdisciplinary connections made with adjacent fields.
In addition we focus on three major research themes: colonial and postcolonial studies; studies of gender and sexualities; and literature and religion. The first points to a broad historical view which untangles relations of domination but also accommodation and translation in colonial and post-colonial cultures such as India and the Middle East, as well as the imperial centre(s) in Europe (the resonances of colonial discourses, anti-colonial struggles and post-colonial quandaries in discourse about religion, for example). The second traces the way in which gender and sexual categories are constructed historically and are the subject of contemporary social and political controversy. The third considers the intersection of religion with literature (and the arts), with philosophy, and with critical theory. A particular emphasis is on hermeneutics and the questions of textuality and interpretation. We are interested in how religion necessarily crosses over into other realms of thinking and experience, and how this might be made manifest in the various textual expressions handed down by tradition or found within contemporary culture. In pursuing these research themes we work as interdisciplinary groups with colleagues in English Studies, Modern Languages, and Education, to emphasise the continuities of inquiry that cut across language and culture.
The impact of our research is communicated more widely via blogs, a website and other projects which are influential in debates in the public sphere, and in the field of education. Andrew Hass edits the journal, Literature and Theology, and more information about Critical Religion approaches can be found at http://www.criticalreligion.stir.ac.uk/ and http://criticalreligion.org/.
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