The Insider Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader (Controversies in the Study of Religion)

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Press: Cassell (October 1998)


The "insider/outsider problem" is a theoretical and methodological issue that confronts the student of human behaviour and culture. 
This anthology collects 30 readings, from such writers as Kant, Hume, Schleiermacher and Otto, to Ninian Smart, Mircea Eliade, Karen McCarthy-Brown and Wendy Doniger-O'Flaherty, that investigate the ways in which scholars of religion have grappled with the relations between studying, practising and advocating.
Moving from influential readings in linguistics and anthropology, the volume's thematically arranged chapter introduce readers to the strengths and weaknesses of several popular options in addressing the insider/outsider problem.


“McCutcheon explains, in comprehensible language, theoretical terms and concepts which are significant and indeed critical..." -- Journal of Contemporary Religion 16.2 (2001)“Presents an outstanding overview of the insider/outsider problem in the study of religion.” -- Teaching Theology and Religion


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Comment List (Total:1)

  •     This is only a comment on Russell T. McCutcheon's "General Introduction" which I find to be an excellent piece of writing. Addressing the insider/outsider problem, McCutcheon articulates four positions which have been taken on the issue of understanding or explaining religious experience. McCutcheon's brief (10 pages) analysis of the methods and theories used to understand/explain religious experience from both an insider and an outsider perspective is crafted elegantly, like a tale, taking you along point by point convincingly showing the benefits (and liabilities) of each, and then producing a still more complex way of approaching the issue. This introduction is an excellent entré for serious students of religion who are exploring their own quests to understand what theories and methodologies they seek to employ for their further study of religion. It is written clearly and simply and raises a host of superb questions.

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