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Theme Issue on Markus Davidsen’s Vision for the Study of Religion

The latest issue of NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion debates dr. Markus Altena Davidsen’s vision for the future of religious studies in the Netherlands. Comparison, theory formation, and valorization are among the elements that Davidsen urges scholars of religion to prioritize in order to make the discipline more relevant for both academia and society. The entire issue can be accessed for free from the publisher’s website.

Amsterdam University Press, the publisher of NTT JTSR, announced the theme issue as follows:


NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion is happy to announce the publication of its latest issue which offers an animated discussion about the future of religious studies in the Netherlands. You can read the whole issue for free at: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/aup/jtsr/2020/00000074/00000003

The special issue opens with a provocative article by the Leiden scholar of religion Markus Altena Davidsen: ‘Theo van Baaren’s Systematic Science of Religion Revisited: The Current Crisis in Dutch Study of Religion and a Way Out’. Davidsen claims that with the fall of the phenomenology of religion around 1970, Dutch religious studies also lost its identity as a discipline, its commitment to the comparative method, and its ambition to theorize religion in the singular. The field declined and became fragmented. To turn the tide, Davidsen urges his colleagues to commit to an updated version of Van Baaren’s programme for a systematic science of religion, involving comparison and theory formation. The editorial board asked a variety of scholars to respond to Davidsen. Kocku von Stuckrad (University of Groningen), Katja Rakow (Utrecht University), Kees de Groot (Tilburg School of Catholic Theology), Eric Venbrux and Arjan Sterken (both Radboud University Nijmegen) all address various aspects of Davidsen’s article. Overall, the respondents agree with Davidsen’s depiction of the field as ‘undisciplined’ (Venbrux) and ‘a huge mess’ (Von Stuckrad), and as being increasingly influenced by postcolonial, feminist and other critiques. But contrary to Davidsen they consider this situation to increase rather than limit the future prosperity of the field, and some consider Davidsen’s longing for more coherence within the discipline to be rather old-fashioned. In his reply to his critics, Davidsen addresses several contested issues and clarifies his views on comparison, in a discussion with Rakow. The guest editor of the special issue is Arie L. Molendijk (University of Groningen).

Access: Because of its actual importance, the publisher Amsterdam University Press granted permission to make the special issue immediately available open access, and not after the customary period of three years.”

Davidsen’s target article was based on a lecture given at the Tri-university Research Colloquium “Science of Religion at the Post-theological University”, held Friday 14 June 2019 in Leiden.

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