From Monday, 4. June 2018 - 12:00
To Wednesday, 6. June 2018 - 14:00
Comparison is basic to thinking and categorizing, and accordingly to academic work, whether labelled as comparative or not. Yet comparison has been and remains contested, in the wake of trenching critique from the 1970s and costs and problems with comparative designs. Such critique did not result in the abandonment of comparative approaches; for instance, leading scholars like Bruce Lincoln and Jonathan Smith have throughout their careers worked along comparative tracks. Yet comparison have over the past decades not been foregrounded or widely acknowledged as a method. Nor is there today an established “comparative approach”. In the words of Birgit Meyer – and this claim can be extended to the academic study of religion - “anthropology’s comparative approach” is not simply “there” and ready to be implemented … but is yet to be revived and developed in terms of epistemology, theory, and method” (2017:510).
This PHD-course discusses recent attempts along such lines, with a focus on constructive ways forward and methodological concerns. If compare we must, how can we do it better, more informed, and in ways that avoid pitfalls? How can we learn from past mistakes, without settling for what Bruce Lincoln´s “Thesis on comparison” calls “a parochialism that dares speak nothing beyond the petty and the particular”. What is the analytical pay off of comparison, in regard to critical thinking and knowledge production? What is the comparison involved in our own work, and in the religious worlds we study?
Lectures by Paul Johnson (University of Michigan), Nancy Ammerman (Boston University), Einar Thomassen (University of Bergen) and Markus Dressler (University of Leipzig)