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Ancestors’ Publics

Ancestors’ Publics

(p.85) 4 Ancestors’ Publics
Who Owns Religion?
Laurie L. Patton
University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the idea of the public sphere within the field's own recent intellectual history by exploring the theories of W. C. Smith and Mircea Eliade. It focuses on the question of tradition and faith, the representation of Islam in the case of Smith, and the methodology of the morphology of religion and comparative work of symbols in the case of Eliade. The chapter also discusses the approach of Smith and Eliade in their straightforward liberalization of the public sphere as the number one cultural work of the scholar of religion. In Smith's case, it is the creation of a religious commons in which people of all faiths can interact. In the case of Eliade, it is the creation of a liberal perspective through interpretation of ancient texts.

Keywords:   public sphere, W. C. Smith, Mircea Eliade, Islam, liberalization, tradition, faith, religion

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