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Closed and open concepts of religion: The problem of essentialism in teaching about religion
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Religious Studies. (Minoritet, identitet, autenticitet)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9963-8124
2014 (English)In: Textbook Gods: Genre, Text and Teaching Religious Studies / [ed] Bengt-Ove Andreassen, James R. Lewis, Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2014, 16-42 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Essentialist concepts of religion are common in the teaching of religion in schools and to a certain extent also in the academic discipline of religious studies. In this article, a number of problems with essentialist perceptions of religion are discussed. In the first part of the article a thesis is maintained, according to which essentialist conceptions of religion or specific religions are too limited to be of value in the teaching of religion. This is done through examples of essentialist expressions on religion. The examples are grouped according to a typology of different kinds of essentialism. Two main categories, each with two sub-categories are identified. Thus, the category of essentialism regarding the substance of religion is divided into transcendental or theological essentialism (which presupposes the existence of a sacred power of some kind, the experience of which is the basis for religion), and core essentialism (where it is presupposed that certain ideas or concepts constitute religion as a general category or specific religions). Likewise, the category of essentialism regarding the function of religion has two sub-categories: positive and negative essentialism. These kinds of essentialism presuppose that religion or specific religions are inherently good or harmful respectively to human be-ings. Examples from each of these categories are given and discussed. In the second part of the article, Benson Saler’s open concept of religion is presented as an alternative to essentialist or bounded perceptions. It is based on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of family resemblances and on prototype theory. In connection with this, it is argued that a certain kind of conscious ethnocentrism is needed as a point of departure in the study and teaching of religion. The metaphor of education as a journey from the familiar out into the unfamiliar and back again is suggested as a possible pattern for such teaching.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2014. 16-42 p.
Keyword [en]
Essentialism, Religious Education, Didactics of Religion, Religious Studies, Family Resemblances, Prototype Theory, Benson Saler
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Intercultural Studies, Essentialism i religionsundervisningen
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-11104ISBN: 9781781790557 (print)ISBN: 9781781790540 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-11104DiVA: diva2:562405
Projects
Essentialism i religionsundervisningen
Available from: 2012-10-24 Created: 2012-10-24 Last updated: 2017-05-31Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(592 kB)20 downloads
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File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 592 kBChecksum SHA-512
b4651d45ccaf03662aac6e0013e0e34cf1071ba51976c101de83d9d716b9db31de2af48a17f85754191480440813738504cedca3804f41a14638ecda65c7ed65
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

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https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=23872

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf