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CASA Celebration

Dr. Matthew Baldwin


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"Objects and objections: methodological reflection on the data for Religious Studies."
Publication version of 2017 NAASR keynote address, in Constructing "Data" in Religious Studies: Examining the Architecture of the Academy, Fall 2019.

Dr. Baldwin says: This is the publication version of an invited keynote address from the 2017 Fall annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR); the 2019 volume which it appears in contains the proceedings of that conference including four formal responses to this essay. My essay addresses the methods and approaches that scholars of religion use to construe “facts” in the world as “data” relevant to the academic study of “religion.” It offers sharp criticisms of one current trend in Religious Studies (so-called “material religion”) in which “material” objects are privileged above other forms of data as particularly relevant for theorizing “religion.” The essay concludes with a set of theoretical theses on the construal and study of “objects.”