If a discipline is defined by the object of its study, then the definition of the object of study has a priori paramount importance. Studies of the evolution of the study of religion show that researchers have been unable to escape their own socio-political contexts. I begin with a brief consideration of the evolution of superstition as a means to gain perspective on the evolution of the study of religion and definitions of religion and as a cautionary note to both the contextual study of religion and the cognitive-evolutionary (ce) study of religion. I then continue with an overview of our conference, “Researching Religion: Methodological Debates in Anthropology and the Study of Religion,” at Aarhus University, and the seven articles published in this special double issue of Numen. Taken together, they reflect and address an international rupture between the contextual and the ce study of religion, and point towards productive avenues for future research.
Numen, 2014, Vol 61, Issue 2-3, p. 131-144
religion; anthropology; method; epistemology; superstition; cognitive science of religion; history of religion; ethnography