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Beyond Phenomenology: Rethinking the Study of Religion (Cassell Religious Studies) Paperback – October 1, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Those who have appreciated Gavin Flood's work…will not be surprised to learn that this is a thorough and constructive analysis of key ideas within contemporary academic religious studies…two of the book's important contributions are that it finally nails down the myth of phenomenological activity and neutrality, and, that it indicates ways in which particular positions, including faith positions, might legitimately operate within religious studies…an important and stimulating book." —Themelios 26.2 (Spring 2001)

"Flood has written a book that will attract a wide group of readers…That his thesis is coherent and clearly stated is beyond question; that he commands an impressive knowledge of theorists within and outside of the study of religion is most evident."—Religious Studies Review

"an excellent introduction to the relationship between critical theory and religious studies methodology…a pioneering work."—Culture and Religion

"Flood's work is invaluable. He is clearly raising interesting and important issues."
- Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2001

About the Author

Gavin Flood is Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the author of An Introduction to Hinduism (CUP 2004).

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Product Details

  • Series: Cassell Religious Studies
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304705705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304705702
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,867,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is an intriguing and controversial new book in the study of religion. Taking as his premise the assuption that Religious Studies as a discipline has, on the whole, ignored contemporary methodological advances in the social sciences and critical theory, he advocates the need for 'metatheory' - thinking about the basis of the discipline's methods and theory. From the basis of postmodern theory, though distancing himself from a nihilistic postmodernist agenda, Flood uses thinkers such as Bakhtin and Riceour to construct a 'dialogic' and 'reflexive' methodlogy, and to offer a critique of the discipline's traditional usage of phenomenology. In this he, perhaps, overstates the way in which the study of religion has failed to be self-critical in its own use of method and understanding. Where the book is at its best is in offering an introduction to the thought of a number of postmodern and critical thinkers who are probably, as he suggets, often ignored by scholars of religion. Certainly, as is clear in this work, they offer many useful insights for the discipline, even if one does not concur with all his criticisms. Flood's most controversial case, however, is in the final section, where, having argued compelling for the situated nature of all our knowledge, he suggests that as long as people acknowledge their agenda the study of religion should be open to partisan accounts, rather than pretending to have a pure unbiased neutrality, which is surely impossible. Both traditional phenomenologists and critical theorists within the discipline should be challenged and intrigued by what he has to say, even though there is much here that is new and necessarily controversial. All serious scholars and students in the field should read this work.
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Flood's prose could be more clear, but his critique of phenomenology is not only correct but important and undervalued. I'm less satisfied with the direction he takes in the end, but this is a must-read for scholars of religion working on phenomenology.
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