When we speak of religion are we in fact talking about race? Does the idea of ‘religion’ only make sense if we consider it as a particular instance of a racial formation?
My theoretical starting point here is this question:
When we speak of religion are we in fact talking about race?
Or to put this a little more carefully:
What I am trying to explore is the extent to which discourses on religion and religions (religious practices, religious differences, classifications, etc.) are a means of expressing discourses on race and racial differences.
Does the idea of ‘religion’ only make sense if we consider it as a particular instance of a racial formation?
I work from the assumption that categories of race and gender are fundamental to the analysis of culture and society, inasmuch as both categories (together with other categories, such as sexualities, ability, religion) are part of the constructions of reality in which people live.
So, to be clear, when I talk of both ‘race’ and ‘religion’, I am taking both of these as cultural terms — we can call them imagined, or constructed, or ideological. They are not intended to refer to any entities that are ‘sui generis’, that have a reality beyond the ways in which the terms are put to use.
My central question here is not so much whether these terms are connected, but to what extent — and if we can at all distinguish religion from race?
The full text of this episode can be found on the Religion Bites blog.
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.