Friday, 18 September 2015
Identity and the Politics of Scholarship in the Study of Religion,
ed. José Ignacio Cabezón & Sheila Greeve Davaney, Routledge, 2004,
Chapter 4 "Between Identity and Footnotes" (pp. 77-97), page 80-81
Continuing to pursue the relationship between identity and scholarship, Eisenbaum writes:
One of the primary problems with a deterministic view of the relationship between identity and scholarship consists in even more deeply embedded assumptions about what costitutes one's identity, religious or otherwise, namely, how should scholars determine who counts as an "insider" regarding any particular field of study? Or, conversely, who counts as an "outsider"? Futhermore ... it is difficult to predict whether being an insider or being an outsider will hinder or engender epistemological privilege. There are far too many variables involved, since there is an infinite number of possible combinations between any field of study and the factors that make up a scholar's personal identity.
This is complicated. Just who am I in relation to my work and do I really have any right to do it? Am I doing it a service or a disservice in the process? Will my personal identity swamp the research or make its results unusable? These and similar questions need to be asked and answers attempted by every researcher.