"The Common Ground On Which Students of Religion Meet": Methodology and Theory Within the IAHR
Only thanks to the guiding lights and the overwhelming majority of the members of the International Association for the History of Religions have the most recent world congresses of this body avoided slipping into congresses of religion after the model of the Parliament held in Chicago in 1893. If the history of religions is to preserve its spirit and further its autonomy, it must not only work out the peculiarities of its methods, it must also revive its religio-critical, or rather, its ideological function. - Kurt Rudolph
The Need for Theories of Religion
Apart from the meetings of the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR), that coincide with both the American Academy of Religion's (AAR) and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion's (SSSR) annual meetings, North American scholars have traditionally had few opportunities for meeting and discussing issues of theory and methodology with their colleagues in the wider field. Other than such sessions at the AAR's annual meetings for the History of the Study of Religion and Critical Theory 2 , there are few avenues for engaging in methodological critique and, perhaps more importantly, for developing and debating the merits of various theories of religion. Certainly there exist those well known publications on methods and theories rightly associated with the Chicago School in the History of Religions 3 , but they are generally limited to issues of description, interpretation, and understanding and remain completely devoid of efforts to develop explanations and theories of religion.
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