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Taxonomy Construction and the Normative Turn in Religious Studies

Departments of Anthropology and Religious Studies, Indiana University, Sycamore Hall 230, 1033 E. 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Religions 2017, 8(12), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120270
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 13 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
Jonathan Z. Smith contends that a taxonomic agenda underlies the study of religion. Before Smith, structuralist scholars saw it as their task to uncover the roots of human taxonomic arrangements that present themselves as natural. Drawing somewhat anachronistically on Smith’s taxonomic model, I argue that underlying investigative categories posed by structural anthropologists are operative strategies of subjective value and valuation. I employ Smith to amend structuralist classificatory paradigms and to speak to questions of normativity, values, and concealed agendas in the contemporary study of religion. Smith’s comparative program serves as a fertile territory of encounter between divergent religious studies subfields. In short, I argue that although the normative turn in religious studies has generally succeeded in deconstructing appeals to scholarly objectivity, it faces challenges along other parameters. View Full-Text
Keywords: the study of religion; categories; taxonomy; normativity and values; Jonathan Z. Smith; structuralism; social anthropology the study of religion; categories; taxonomy; normativity and values; Jonathan Z. Smith; structuralism; social anthropology
MDPI and ACS Style

Cooper, T.W. Taxonomy Construction and the Normative Turn in Religious Studies. Religions 2017, 8, 270.

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