Scott Thompson responds to Kathleen Frederickson

Kathleen Frederickson’s response helpfully brings economics, empire, and gender into conversation with Lecourt’s claims. I especially appreciate the suggestion to track the mechanisms through which anthropological and religious writings were distributed. It is worth paying attention to the financial and economic underpinnings of the organizations that participated in, and potentially benefitted from, the circulation of particular types of knowledge.

Frederickson also points out how recent feminist criticism has examined the role of religion in nineteenth-century women’s social participation. Complicating the oversimplified notion of separate spheres, she suggests, via Leonore Davidoff, religious activity facilitated various degrees of social and public interaction for women. Frederickson’s question about how a “public ‘hybridity, heterogeneity, and the ability to keep multiple values in play’” might offer a way to reconsider gender makes me wonder how the “embodied” part of Lecourt’s argument pairs with this consideration of nineteenth-century gender politics. In Lecourt’s framing, subjectivity becomes bodily and exterior, as opposed to (only) mental and interior. Bodies and exteriority were both gendered concepts in the mid-century. Might the embodied or bodily aspect of Cultivating Belief’s argument provide a way to theorize the interplay between gender and religion?

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