Critical reflections on and in "the field": The Study of `Religion' and the methodology of true (reflexive) praxis in Puerto Rico
Avella, Douglas J.
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Through a close look at the current debates in the study of religion and a critical analysis of my experiences as a researcher in (neo) colonial Puerto Rico, I illustrate the importance of true reflexive praxis as methodology. I argue that critical scholars focus on praxis in the field itself to see how knowledge (formed and re-formed) might serve to perpetuate or challenge forms of oppression and domination. I also share some of the unique methodological challenges that arose during my own fieldwork in la Iglesia Ciudad de Refugio in Nagüabo, Puerto Rico. I offer this to show the indispensability of the methodological praxis for scholarship, for the researcher in the field, and the people being studied. This thesis centers on the development of the methodology of true (reflexive) praxis through an analysis of its application to the (living) field and beyond. My hope is that by examining praxis in the field, scholars can see how they might be contributing to oppressive processes that harm the people who we hope our work might help.