FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2017, no. 35

 

ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF RELIGION: THEORIES, METHODS AND FIELD EXPERIENCES

Jeanne Kormina
National Research University Higher School of Economics
16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Str., St Petersburg, Russia
jkormina()hse.ru; kormina()eu.spb.ru

Alexander Panchenko
European University at St Petersburg
3 Gagarinskaya Str., St Petersburg, Russia
Institute of Russian Literature (The Pushkin House), Russian Academy of Sciences
4 Makarova Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
apanchenko2008()gmail.com

Sergei Shtyrkov
European University at St Petersburg
3 Gagarinskaya Str., St Petersburg, Russia
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
3 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
shtyr()eu.spb.ru

Abstract: The article provides an overview of some hot topics in the contemporary anthropology of religion. One of these topics concerns the theoretical value and analytical implications of the concept of “religion” in contemporary anthropology and beyond. The contributors to the special issue agree that there is no universal definition of “religion,” and when using this concept in their academic practice, the researchers must keep in mind its limitations and additional implications. At the same time, many specialists (for many reasons) can not reject the concept altogether. In light of this, some contributors suggest that one way religion can remain a meaningful object for anthropological research is “the ontological turn” that proceeds from a critical reassessment of “classical” theories and norms in the social sciences. 

Another major topic concerns the identity of researchers who do fieldwork among religious practitioners. Researchers of religious groups are faced with the dilemma of keeping an appropriate distance between themselves and their subjects. As anthropologists, we have to keep a complicated balance between our loyalty to two different systems of conventions, i. e. of our academic corporation and of the religious groups we work with. Finally, we have to consider the consequences of the results of our research being a part of public debates about the social position of religion or about particular religious groups, practices and beliefs.

Keywords: anthropology of religion, epistemology of social sciences, fieldwork methodology.

To cite: Kormina J., Panchenko A., Shtyrkov S., ‘Sotsialnye issledovaniya religii: teoriya, metody i opyt’ [Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion: Theories, Methods and Field Experiences], Antropologicheskij forum, 2017, no. 35, pp. 129–166.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/035/kormina_panchenko_shtyrkov.pdf