Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Researching Paganisms

Congratulations to Graham Harvey, Jenny Blain, and Doug Ezzy on publication of their new anthology, Researching Paganisms, with contributions by the editors plus Andy Letcher, Jone Salomonsen, Wendy Griffin, Melissa Harrington, Sarah Pike, Ronald Hutton, Ruth Mantin, Robert Wallis, and some incoherant rambling essay by me.

The publisher says, "Should researchers of spirituality and religion be distantly 'objective,' or engaged and active participants? The traditional paradigm of 'methodological agnosticism' is increasingly challenged as researchers emphasize the benefits of direct participation for understanding beliefs and practices. Should academic researchers 'go native,' participating as 'insiders' in engagements with the 'supernatural,' experiencing altered states of of consciousness? How do academics negotiate the fluid boundaries between worlds and meanings which may change their own beliefs? Should their own experiences be part of academic reports? Researching Paganisms presents reflective and engaging accounts of issues in the academic study of religion confronted by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, historians and religious studies scholars—as researchers and as humans—as they study contemporary Pagan religions. The insights that contributors gain, with resultant changes to their own lives, will fascinate not only other scholars of Pagan religions, but scholars of any religion and indeed anyone who grapples with issues of reflexive research."

My lingering question (in the tone of Carrie's column-writing voice-over from Sex and the City), "Are we being too reflexive too soon?" But it's fun.


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