Sunday, 6 September 2015
Identity and The Production of Knowledge
Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion,
ed. José Ignacio Cabezón & Sheila Greeve Davaney, Routledge, 2004, page 13
In section 4 of their introduction, Cabezón and Davaney ask how identity impacts the generation of knowledge, in particular, knowledge about religion. They describe the two poles of the debate: on the one hand, that identity ha no impact upon knowledge; on the other, the view that all knowledge can be reduced to the identity of the person generating it. They and the various contributors to the book reject both these positions, but nevertheless discuss where on the spectrum researchers and scholars are and how that may affect their work.
All of the contributors assert that, indeed, who you are affects the agenda you set yourself as a scholar, the approaches you find compelling and the conclusions you reach. At the same time, all the contributors resist the assertion that identity predetermines our intellectual trajectories or that it is on the basis of identity that the validity of our scholarship is decided.
Somewhere in the middle, then, is the ground that scholars occupy.
Identity does matter; scholars are not clean slates with no histories, values or experiences shaping their scholarly work.