Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theorists such as Freud, Durkheim, Weber, and Marx built their intellectual edifices on what they thought would be the remains or ruins of religion in the wake of modernization. But today the decline and disappearance of religion can no longer be simply assumed. In the face of contemporary entanglements of religion and violence, the establishment of meaning and morality remains troubling; the experience of loss and change remains, paradoxically, constant; and new theoretical perspectives--feminism, race studies, postcolonial studies, queer studies, postmodernism--have emerged, challenging the works that mourned religion and created meaning in earlier periods. The effects of this ongoing experience of mourning and symbolic loss on culture, on subjectivity, and on the academic disciplines of religious studies, though immense, are poorly understood and underinterpreted.
In order to correct this lacuna in scholarly thought, this volume brings together a notable group of scholars who examine the ways in which recent cultural transformations inform the place of religion in the modern world. Methodologically, they represent the intersection of religious studies and the social scientific study of religion, bringing the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology into this dialogue.