Theoretical, Terminological, and Taxonomic Trouble in the Academic Study of Contemporary Paganism: A Case for Reform
Keywords:Contemporary Paganism, Neo-Paganism, Pagan Studies, Paganism, Terminology
AbstractAs the academic study of contemporary Paganism approaches its fourth decade, it faces a variety of theoretical, methodological, and terminological challenges, some of which have faced little or no exploration to date. Here, an attempt to tackle some of the most significant will be made. First, I will examine both how academics and practicing Pagans have defined “contemporary Paganism,” criticizing many such definitions and arguing for the scholarly adoption of a classificatory approach rooted in Wittgenstein’s “family resemblance” paradigm. Second, I shall argue for the need of a much clearer definition of what “Pagan studies” actually studies, before challenging the utility of the term “Pagan studies” itself for being too closely associated with Pagan community activism. Third, I present my argument as to why our field is in such dire need of serious reform in order to establish much needed academic respectability.
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