Introduction
Orangeism, Protestantism, anthropology
in The religion of Orange politics
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Opening with an ethnographic description of a moment of crisis in the Orange Social Club that forms a key field-site for the rest of the book, the Introduction proceeds to outline the key research questions which frame the text – questions about the nature of religion as a political and ethnic signifier. Next, the Introduction situates the importance of these questions within two interlocking debates within anthropology, concerning the place of Christianity and ethics/morality as ethnographic subjects in need of urgent attention and reconsideration. The answer this chapter introduces, and which is then unpacked throughout the rest of the book, is that Orange claims about Protestant exceptionalism, if they are to be understood properly, require anthropologists and other ethnographers to rethink what can legitimately be included within scholarly and common-sense definitions of ‘The Good’. The chapter offers a survey of the (seemingly contradictory) ideological heterogeneity, demographic homogeneity, and moral/ethical duality of the Orange Order in Scotland. Before ending with a summary of the main ethnographic and conceptual themes of the book, the chapter offers some reflexive commentary on methods and ethics in the context of conducting research with what many consider to be politically toxic social groups.

The religion of Orange politics

Protestantism and fraternity in contemporary Scotland

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