9Fanfare for the Common e.g.: On the Strategic Use of the Mundane

Note: This chapter began life as a public lecture written to be delivered at the University of Rochester (Sept. 3, 2015) – my thanks to Aaron Hughes for the kind invitation to visit his campus and speak with his students and colleagues. But its argument goes back much further than this, at least twenty years or more, to when, taking seriously my own critique of the field’s preoccupation with defining religion as a sui generis phenomenon, it occurred to me that we not only ought to be studying the processes whereby groups made things appear to be unique or set apart (thus leading to the shift toward a model for the modern field based on semiotics rather than theology and intellectual ...

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