Sunday, 20 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 93-93
Drawing her thoughts to a close, Pamela Eisenbaum sums up her arguments about privilege and identity. The first conclusion is:
My concern for healthy Jewish-Christian relations does not predetermine or privilege what I say about Paul.
This is good. Paul is Eisenbaum's specific field of study and expertise: she is a Pauline scholar. Secondly:
I suspect that identity may more often be correlated with the choice of subject matter, or at least the kinds of questions asked, than in predicting the results of scholarly enquiry based on the scholar's personal identity.
And why not indeed. Who among us wants to work in areas that are boring and inwhich we gave no interest? Now of course, life consists in large part of not doing exactly what one wants to do, but it is natural that where there is a choice, our choices of subject and lines of enquiry will follow our own identies and personal interests. Thirdly:
But the motivation to pursue certain kinds of scholarly study should not be confused or equated with the scholarly product that has resukted from those scholarly pursuits.
Scholars, on the whole, whether you agree with them or not, follow scholarly rules and procedures. The academy sits up and howls if someone breaks those rules. In general, we do a good job. Finally:
Scholarship may not always produce satisfactory answers, but it seems to me to be obliged to foster an inefatigable spirit of questioning in which all scholars participate as both subject and object.