The Value of Comparison
Peter van der Veer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen, Germany and Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University. He is the author of several books, including The Modern Spirit of Asia: The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India.
The Comparative Advantage of Anthropology
This chapter of book explores the advantage that particular forms of anthropology have for comparative analysis and seeks to ground the study of the fragment theoretically. Anthropology is the only social science that reflects on Western ethnocentrism and takes the problem of translation seriously. The chapter gives a detailed critique of quantitative analysis of nationalism and of evolutionary cognitive understandings of religion and shows the superiority of a more interpretive anthropology in the study of nationalism and religion. It thus gives not only a critique of some existing approaches but also a demonstration of preferable perspectives.