Summary:

Religion does not just exist within the context of culture. What we think of as religion always also exists within contexts of power, gender, race, ethnicity, and other areas of identity and difference.

Or to put this another way: power, gender, and race are basic (and universal) aspects of human behaviour. To understand what humans do, we have to understand the contexts of power, gender, and race, etc in which that human action is located.

Whenever we do something, it can be understood and analysed (if we wish) in relation to power, gender, and race.

And likewise so with religion. A key part of understanding any religious context requires also asking similar questions.

Episode notes

In the past few episodes I have tried to show that religion and culture are not two separate entities. The terms ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ are ways of talking about similar overlapping things (or perhaps the same thing).

Having got this far, I now want to open this up a little and introduce key issues in the study of religion and culture, which are used extensively in the study of culture (what is normally called ‘cultural studies’).

That is, if we are going to understand culture, we don’t just listen to the music, read the books, visit the art galleries, fashion shows, or the graffiti on the street.

We explore each of these through key questions related to how aspects or dimensions of culture impact on and help to create and make meaningful what we are studying.

There are:

  • Gender — what it means to understand maleness, femaleness, masculinities, femininities, sexualities, and so on.
  • Race and ethnicity — how we think of and express human differences, in relation to issues such as skin colour, culture, language, geography, and a host of related aspects that are boiled down to an idea of ethnicity or race.
  • Other issues of difference and identity that are connected with gender, race, and power (such as class, age, ability, and much more)
  • And power — the ways in which influence, authority, control, and ideas operate within a particular context.

I have already introduced these issues briefly in some of my analysis in the last episodes. There is a lot in each of these, and I will be recording episodes exploring each of these issues in much more depth and discussion. They are all key to what we have to say about culture, and likewise to what we say about religion.

Religion does not just exist within the context of culture. What we think of as religion always also exists within contexts of power, gender, race, ethnicity, and other areas of identity and difference.

Or to put this another way: power, gender, and race are basic (and universal) aspects of human behaviour. To understand what humans do, we have to understand the contexts of power, gender, and race, etc in which that human action is located. Whenever we do something, it can be understood and analysed (if we wish) in relation to power, gender, and race.

And likewise so with religion. A key part of understanding any religious context requires also asking similar questions.

Useful links
About the Religion Bites Podcast

 

Religion Bites is a podcast by Malory Nye, an academic and writer based in Perth, Scotland.

The Religion Bites podcast gives you quick and simple intros to the study of religion, to help you think a bit further about the issues of religion and culture in the contemporary world. If we want to understand today’s world, we need to ‘get’ why people are religious – why they ‘do religion’ in the many ways that religion is done. This is not a podcast about being religious, it is about understanding religion and the role that religion has in the contemporary world.

ALSO BY MALORY NYE