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Russell McCutcheon

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Methods, Theories, and the Terrors of History:
Closing the Eliadean Era With Dignity

Russell T. McCutcheon

The question this paper addresses is: when compared to the controversies that the Heidegger and de Man affairs have caused in philosophy and literary studies, why (or better, how) have scholars of religion been able so successfully to withstand or recuperate from the critical assessments of Eliade's personal political past and the politics of his later work in the study of religion? In other words, how has the discourse on religion withstood a decade's worth of criticisms and historical findings concerning extreme politics that might otherwise have discredited not only one of its leading intellectuals but also its foundational methodologies and theories?

The fact that essentialist and generally de­historicizing strategies operate so widely as to be virtually transparent to the mass of scholars of religion is the key to understanding the way the field as a whole has avoided confronting the charges of extreme politics.

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