Religion, Language, and Power

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Religion, Language and Power shows that the language of ‘religion’ is far from neutral, and that the packaging and naming of what English speakers call ‘religious’ groups or identities is imbued with the play of power. Religious Studies has all too often served to amplify voices from other centers of power, whether scripturalist or otherwise normative and dominant. This book’s de-centering of English classifications goes beyond the remit of most postcolonial studies in that it explores the classifications used in a range of languages — including Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek and English — to achieve a comparative survey of the roles of language and power in the making of ‘religion’ . In contextualizing these uses of language, the ten contributors explore how labels are either imposed or emerge interactively through discursive struggles between dominant and marginal groups. In dealing with the interplay of religion, language and power, there is no other book with the breadth of this volume.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415963688
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Series: Routledge Studies in Religion Series
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nile Green is Associate Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has published over 35 articles in international journals, as well as Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century (Routledge, 2006) and Islam and the Army in Colonial India (Cambridge, 2008).

Mary Searle-Chatterjee has published articles in edited collections including ‘World Religions’ and ‘Ethnic Groups’: Do these Paradigms Lend themselves to the Cause of Hindu Nationalism?" , as well as chapters in edited collections. Her books include Contextualising Caste, co-edited with Ursula Sharma (Blackwell, 1991; reprinted Rawat, 2003) and Reversible Sex Roles : The Special Case of Benares Sweepers (Pergamon, 1981).

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Religion, Language and Power: An Introductory Essay - Nile Green & Mary Searle-Chatterjee

Part I: Exporting ‘Religion’

1. Dialogues on Religion and Violence at the Parliament of the World’s Religions – John Zavos

2. The Making of ‘Religion’ in Modern China - Francesca Tarocco

3. Reclaiming Mysticism: Anti-Orientalism and the Construction of ‘Islamic Sufism’ in Postcolonial Egypt – Andreas Christmann

Part II: Execrating and Excluding the Other

4. Insider/Outsider Labelling and the Struggle for Power in Early Judaism - Philip S. Alexander

5. Who are the Others? Three Moments in Sanskrit-Based Practice – Jacqueline Suthren Hirst

6. The Continuum of ‘Sacred Language’ from High to Low Speech in the Middle Iranian (Pahlavi) Zoroastrian Tradition - Alan Williams

7. Articulating Anglicanism: The Church of England and the Language of the ‘Other’ in the Eighteenth Century - Jeremy Gregory

Part III: Struggling for the Self

8. Christianos: Defining the Self in the Acts of the Apostles - Todd Klutz

9. Attributing and Rejecting the Label ‘Hindu’ in North India - Mary Searle-Chatterjee

10. Idiom, Genre and the Politics of Self-Description on the Peripheries of Persian - Nile Green



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