Document Title

Sommes-nous en train de piller les marbres d’Elgin? Les défis de la contestation de l’hégémonie intellectuelle occidentale (English title: Are We Stealing the Elgin Marbles? Unexpected Twists in the Effort to Challenge Western Intellectual Hegemony)


Sociology and Anthropology


The fact that the sociology of religion’s core concepts are based on Western models of religion has stimulated attempts to expand the discipline’s conceptual toolkit to include ideas originating in non-Western traditions. This article explores two issues that confront every such effort. The first is the issue of cultural appropriation: by what right do powerful people gather resources, artifacts, and ideas from those less powerful than they, applying them in ways that ignore their creators? The second is the issue of whether any set of ideas can be applied outside its original socio-historical context. Is a universal sociology possible, as the founders of sociology claimed? Or are we stuck with a series of indigenous sociologies, Western among them, each applicable only to its local sphere?

The article argues that we can only answer these questions by taking our own current historical-cultural situation into account. That situation includes an increased openness to recognizing past inequities and a willingness to reform social science so as to avoid them. The result recommends a more equal and inclusive science, not a retreat to cultural isolation.

Document Type


Publication Title

Revue du M.A.U.S.S.

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The publication is in French, translated by François Gauthier. The article is posted -- paywalled -- at I have uploaded an preprint version in English.

Document Version


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.