The Seminar Room

A Religious Studies Podcast

Welcome to The Seminar Room


“The Seminar Room” (TSR) is a religious studies podcast by and for students and scholars of religion that engages specific texts and concepts in religious studies theory and method, philosophy and critical theory. Our regular contributors are Joel Harrison (Northwestern), Lucas Scott Wright (UCSB) and Sean Capener (Toronto).

The format and title of the podcast are meant to reflect “the seminar room” in which grad students encounter and reflect upon texts in their respective graduate programs. Our goal is to provide an online seminar room in which contributors may debate texts and ideas in a way that opens up further discussion with our listeners.

Episodes are released every other week on Saturdays. In addition to our podcast recordings, this blog contains supplementary introductions to and reflections on the texts, and links to each text we discuss.

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Twitter: @TheSeminarRoom


  1. Timothy Fitzgerald

    February 1, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Thanks for discussing my article, “A Critique of religion as a cross-cultural category” (1995). Its an early exploration which I had already been discussing in previous articles in the 1990’s on Japan and India (I wish you’d read them, as they refer to concrete issues) and I continue in many subsequent publications. These references would have provided the discussants with more concrete situations of problematic ‘cross-cultural’ analysis and representation of others. One point you never touched on is that ‘religion’ is a matter of constitutions, and thus inseparable in defining the non-religious secular state. But who has the power and authority to decide on the boundaries? My book, The Ideology of Religious Studies (2000) came after the article you were discussing, not before (you both seemed unsure about what I have written). I attempt to deal with ‘politics’ there in the Ideology, but I agree that my position is contradictory and not fully worked out. I did not become fully conscious of the ideological function of the category ‘politics’ until probably 2003. My book Religion and Politics in International Relations: the Modern Myth (2011) hopefully clears up some misunderstandings and misreadings. Regarding general categories, we cannot think without them! On the other hand, the uncritical reproduction of categories that tacitly legitimate a specific kind of power formation need to be challenged. I agree that ‘politics’ and ‘culture’ are too problematic to act as neutral descriptive categories. Some general categories are less problematic, depending on the context. ‘Tables’ and ‘chairs’ are not typically problematic; however, its easy to imagine a Protestant missionary context where they become markers of civility or its lack, in short they act as power categories. Few categories are as protected as the religion-secular binary, not least by ‘secular’ constructors of knowledge in secular universities. Please also see essays in a recent edited book Stack, Goldenberg and Fitzgerald, Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty (Brill, 2015). However, I appreciate the efforts here, thanks.


      February 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Thank you, Prof. Fitzgerald, for taking the time to listen and to reply! Your comments are very helpful. We admire your work in theory and method, which is why we chose the essay for our inaugural episode. We’ll have to discuss one of your more recent texts in a future episode!

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