Although the notion of fundamentalism as a global phenomenon dates from around 1980, the term itself originated in North American Protestantism approximately six decades earlier and acquired pejorative connotations within five years of its invention. Since the early 1990s, however, many scholars have endorsed the view that the notion of fundamentalism - as relying on literalist interpretations of the scriptures, firm commitment to patriarchy, or refusal to confine religious matters to the private sphere - facilitates our understanding of modern religion by enabling us to identify and label structurally analogous developments in different religions. Critics of the term have identified problems with it, above all that the idea of global fundamentalism confuses more than it clarifies and unjustifiably overlooks, downplays, or homogenizes difference more than it identifies a genuine homogeny.
The editor's rigorous exploration of both the usefulness and the limitations of the concept make it an excellent counterpoint to the many books that have a great deal to say about the former and very little to say about the latter. It will also serve as an ideal text for religious studies, history, and anthropology courses that explore the complex interface between religion and modernity as well as courses on theory and method in religious studies.
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm
"This marvelous collection has something to provoke every reader who has ever used the word "fundamentalism" to describe a state of mind other than one's own. Wood and Watt have assembled a fine group of diverse scholarly experts on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam--many of whom disagree vehemently with each other regarding the utility of "fundamentalism." This book is a model of scholarly argument at its best, and on one of the most important religious and political subjects of our time."--Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University
"This volume offers a lively debate about the theoretical and analytical value of fundamentalism. Nuanced, thoughtful, and passionate in the conversations it engenders and expertly crafted by the editors, it is bound to become required reading from religious studies to history and political science."--Juliane Hammer, associate professor and Kenan Rifai Scholar of Islamic Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"All the essays are of uniformly high quality. This is an excellent teaching volume." --Choice (LJ Alderink, Concordia College)
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