SORAAAD was created in 2011 as a means to further the reach of the best qualitative analytical work in the study of religion. Our objective has been to function as both a workshop and a medium of scholarly exchange respecting critical and social theories, methodology, conceptualization and research design.
Analysis of academic norms for the study of religion focuses on construction of a secondary discourse that accomplishes the following: (a) treats all religious phenomena as primary sources, i.e. the object of study; (b) adheres to common academic practices in the humanities and social sciences, as appropriate for the research question under investigation; and (c) incorporates self-critical reflection on the problematic of scholarly, secondary discourse vis-a-vis the primary, intramural discourse of the people and practices studied. These three goals are necessary to adequately formulate the study of religion as a discipline of scholarship in alignment with the Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences.
Rebecca Raphael, 2012 Workshop Premise
SORAAAD fills an important lacuna by providing a unique space for scholars of religion to learn about, test, and apply conceptual models and new techniques to the data or “stuff” of religion. We are here so that important mid-level analytic tools and the broad second-order concepts that we so urgently need can be examined and applied. It is precisely our ability — or lack thereof — to engage in this kind of analysis, to make sense of the data each of us, variously, is obsessed with, in such a way that we can make connections and draw testable conclusions about it that intersect with, are of interest to, and make sense to students of religion who are obsessed with different particular data-sets, that defines us. Our success or failure as a field — or even, god forbid, a discipline — will, I think, rest on how convincingly and assertively we can have these kinds of conversations, among each other, in the classroom, and even with the public. Conceptual and methodological tools such as canon, aesthetics, appropriation, and comparison, constitute a language we can use to talk to each other, as well as a language shared by the social sciences and humanities in the universities in which we work and teach; it is the language we need to learn, therefore, to be intelligible to our academic peers.
William Arnal, 2017 SORAAAD Workshop Opening Statement