Magic has regularly been configured as a definitively non-modern phenomenon, juxtaposed to the distinctly modern models of religion and science. As a category, however, magic has remained stubbornly amorphous. Randall Styers seeks to account for the extraordinary vitality of scholarly discourse purporting to define and explain magic despite its failure to do just that. He argues that it can best be explained in light of the European and Euro-American drive to establish and secure their own identity as normative: rational-scientific, judicial-ethical, industrious, productive, and heterosexual. Magic has served to designate a form of alterity or deviance against which dominant Western notions of appropriate religious piety, legitimate scientific rationality, and orderly social relations are brought into relief.

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