chapter  24
The transcultural turn in the study of ‘religion’
WithHans Martin Krämer
Pages 13

If one opens a comprehensive world atlas, it will inevitably contain a map of the religions of the world. Large swaths of North Africa and Western Asia will be coloured green, and most of Europe, Australia and North America a reddish or pink hue. Other conspicuous monochrome areas will be for ‘natural religions’ in Central Africa, Confucianism in China, Shintoism in Japan and Hinduism in India, among others. An immediately obvious problem with these kinds of maps is the homogenization of areas that should rather be characterized by the coexistence of a diverse array of religions or confessions. Another problematic issue, however, is the way in which different entities are rendered commensurable by putting them on a map and assigning them different colours. Although we have become used to it but is not self-evident that Confucianism, Islam and Shintoism are members of the same category, readily comparable to each other.