Dancing in a Universe of Lights and Shadows
Keywords:contemporary Paganism, insider/outsider problem.
AbstractThe insider/outsider problem remains one of the most controversial and divisive issues in religious studies, affecting not only whose voices are heard within the Academy, but hiring and tenure within universities as well. The scholarship that produces this distinction shares similarities with other forms of dichotomous thinking, producing such binary oppositions as subjective versus objective and practice versus theory. The poles of these binaries are frequently philosophically aligned: outsider/objective/theory against insider/subjective/practice. These distinctions are often far too easily and quickly made, concealing the underlying assumptions making them problematic. Dichotomous thinking almost always essentializes, reducing each end of the binary to a uniform monolith not reflected in experience. Rather than a single, unitary voice, insider and outsider conceal an entire realm—a universe—of discourse engaged in by a multitude of shifting voices and perspectives in negotiation or contestation with one another, making for more than one legitimate point of view.
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