demarcate

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Deployed as a synonym for race, the traditional demarcator for difference in US society, and ethnicity, the sophisticated multifarious variant of "race," "culture" functions in this discourse as a referential demarcator measuring the distance these Others stand in relation to the Caucasian mainstream, inscribed in its turn as the "culture-free" norm.
Around it has swirled much subsequent work, multilayered in argument, about the degree to which women's voices and experiences were distinctive and may be detected as such, making gender thus a demarcator in medieval religion, also the measure to which women were more closely associated in cultural perception (and perhaps religious practice) with body than spirit.
For purposes of conceptual clarity, it is useful to note the subtle but important difference between religion as faith and religion as a social demarcator of identity.