Should the IAHR seek a 'science' peculiar to its community of scholars?

Title: Should the IAHR seek a 'science' peculiar to its community of scholars?
Author: Wiebe, Donald
Source document: Religio. 2023, vol. 31, iss. 2, pp. [331]-345
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
Rights access
open access

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I have two objectives in this paper. The first is to show that the Executive Committee (EC) of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) was intent on nothing less than a wholesale transformation of the Association at the special meeting on the future of the IAHR held in Delphi in 2019. The framing documents for these deliberations focused on the rejection of the strictly scientific study of religion as described in the basic minimum presuppositions for the field that the IAHR had adopted at its World Congress in Marburg in 1960. The EC in Delphi decided to recommend a change of name of the IAHR to the generic and amorphous "International Association for the Study of Religion" with an inclusive mandate open to theological, normative, and applied studies of religion. The cancellation of the 2020 World Congress prevented this from being approved by the General Assembly. In response to subsequent opposition to the proposal, the EC has announced that it will not take the change-of-name proposal forward to the International Committee in 2025. But they have clearly not abandoned their objective of re-creating the IAHR. Hence my second objective: to raise concern about the EC's decision to hold a special adjunct study conference in conjunction with the 2023 meeting of the International Committee. Their search for a "science" peculiar to the IAHR community appears suspiciously like an alternative route to their original Delphi objective.