Contemporary Arab Thought is a complex term, encompassing a constellation of social, political, religious and ideological ideas that have evolved over the past two hundred years — ideas that represent the leading positions of the social classes in modern and contemporary Arab societies.
Distinguished Islamic scholar Ibrahim Abu-Rabi‘ addresses such questions as the Shari‘ah, human rights, civil society, secularism and globalization. This is complimented by a focused discussion on the writings of key Arab thinkers who represent established trends of thought in the Arab world, including Muhammad ‘Abid al-Jabiri, Adallah Laroui, Muhammad al-Ghazali, Rashid al-Ghannoushi, Qutatnine Zurayk, Mahdi ‘Amil and many others.
Before 1967, some Arab countries launched hopeful programmes of modernisation. After the 1967 defeat with Israel, many of these hopes were dashed. This book retraces the Arab world’s aborted modernity of recent decades. Abu-Rabi‘ explores the development of contemporary Arab thought against the historical background of the rise of modern Islamism, and the impact of the West on the modern Arab world.
Scholars of history, anthropology, religion, politics, law, philosophy, and media studies take on a broad range of concerns. Some consider the history of secularism in India; others explore theoretical issues such as the relationship between secularism and democracy or the shortcomings of the categories “majority” and “minority.” Contributors examine how the debates about secularism play out in schools, the media, and the popular cinema. And they address two of the most politically charged sites of crisis: personal law and the right to practice and encourage religious conversion. Together the essays inject insightful analysis into the fraught controversy about the shortcomings and uncertain future of secularism in the world today.
Contributors. Flavia Agnes, Upendra Baxi, Shyam Benegal, Akeel Bilgrami, Partha Chatterjee, V. Geetha, Sunil Khilnani, Nivedita Menon, Ashis Nandy, Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Arvind Rajagopal, Paula Richman, Sumit Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Shabnum Tejani, Romila Thapar, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Gauri Viswanathan
There are, always, more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in one’s philosophy—and in these essays Charles Taylor turns to those things not fully imagined or avenues not wholly explored in his epochal A Secular Age. Here Taylor talks in detail about thinkers who are his allies and interlocutors, such as Iris Murdoch, Alasdair MacIntyre, Robert Brandom, and Paul Celan. He offers major contributions to social theory, expanding on the issues of nationalism, democratic exclusionism, religious mobilizations, and modernity. And he delves even more deeply into themes taken up in A Secular Age: the continuity of religion from the past into the future; the nature of the secular; the folly of hoping to live by “reason alone”; and the perils of moralism. He also speculates on how irrationality emerges from the heart of rationality itself, and why violence breaks out again and again.In A Secular Age, Taylor more evidently foregrounded his Catholic faith, and there are several essays here that further explore that faith. Overall, this is a hopeful book, showing how, while acknowledging the force of religion and the persistence of violence and folly, we nonetheless have the power to move forward once we have given up the brittle pretensions of a narrow rationalism.
Prominent observers complain that public discourse in America is shallow and unedifying. This debased condition is often attributed to, among other things, the resurgence of religion in public life. Steven Smith argues that this diagnosis has the matter backwards: it is not primarily religion but rather the strictures of secular rationalism that have drained our modern discourse of force and authenticity.Thus, Rawlsian “public reason” filters appeals to religion or other “comprehensive doctrines” out of public deliberation. But these restrictions have the effect of excluding our deepest normative commitments, virtually assuring that the discourse will be shallow. Furthermore, because we cannot defend our normative positions without resorting to convictions that secular discourse deems inadmissible, we are frequently forced to smuggle in those convictions under the guise of benign notions such as freedom or equality.Smith suggests that this sort of smuggling is pervasive in modern secular discourse. He shows this by considering a series of controversial, contemporary issues, including the Supreme Court’s assisted-suicide decisions, the “harm principle,” separation of church and state, and freedom of conscience. He concludes by suggesting that it is possible and desirable to free public discourse of the constraints associated with secularism and “public reason.”
In Graphic Migrations, Kavita Daiya provides a literary and cultural archive of refugee stories and experiences to respond to the question “What is created?” after decolonization and the 1947 Partition of India. She explores how stories of Partition migrations shape and influence the political and cultural imagination of secularism and contribute to gendered citizenship for South Asians in India and its diasporas.
Daiya analyzes modern literature, Bollywood films, Margaret Bourke-White’s photography, advertising, and print culture to show how they memorialize or erase refugee experiences. She also uses oral testimonies of Partition refugees from Hong Kong, South Asia, and North America to draw out the tensions of the nation-state, ethnic discrimination, and religious difference. Employing both Critical Refugee Studies and Feminist Postcolonial Studies frameworks, Daiya traces the cultural, affective, and political legacies of Partition migrations.
The precarity generated by modern migration and expressed through public culture prompts a rethinking of how dominant media represents gendered migrants and refugees. Graphic Migrations demands that we redraw the boundaries of how we tell the story of modern world history and the intricately interwoven, intimate production of statelessness and citizenship across the world’s communities.
At its inception in 1868, the modern Japanese state pursued policies and created institutions that lacked a coherent conception of religion. Yet the architects of the modern state pursued an explicit "religious settlement" as they set about designing a constitutional order through the 1880s. As a result, many of the cardinal institutions of the state, particularly the imperial institution, eventually were defined in opposition to religion.Drawing on an assortment of primary sources, including internal government debates, diplomatic negotiations, and the popular press, Trent E. Maxey documents how the novel category of religion came to be seen as the "greatest problem" by the architects of the modern Japanese state. In Meiji Japan, religion designated a cognitive and social pluralism that resisted direct state control. It also provided the modern state with a means to contain, regulate, and neutralize that plurality.
For the last several decades an influential group of Egyptian scholars and public intellectuals has been having a profound effect in the Islamic world. Raymond Baker offers a compelling portrait of these New Islamists--Islamic scholars, lawyers, judges, and journalists who provide the moral and intellectual foundations for a more fully realized Islamic community, open to the world and with full rights of active citizenship for women and non-Muslims.The New Islamists have a record of constructive engagement in Egyptian public life, balanced by an unequivocal critique of the excesses of Islamist extremists. Baker shows how the New Islamists are translating their thinking into action in education and the arts, economics and social life, and politics and foreign relations despite an authoritarian political environment. For the first time, Baker allows us to hear in context the most important New Islamist voices, including Muhammad al Ghazzaly, Kamal Abul Magd, Muhammad Selim al Awa, Fahmy Huwaidy, Tareq al Bishry, and Yusuf al Qaradawy--regarded by some as the most influential Islamic scholar in the world today. A potentially transformative force in global Islam, the New Islamists define Islam as a civilization that engages others and searches for common ground through shared values such as justice, peace, human rights, and democracy.Islam without Fear is an impressive achievement that contributes to the understanding of Islam in general and the possibilities of a centrist Islamist politics in particular.
How Jesuit education can help students create meaningful connections in an age of secularism
In A Secular Age, the philosopher Charles Taylor challenges us to appreciate the significance of genuine spiritual experience in human life, an occurrence he refers to as “fullness.” Western societies, however, are increasingly becoming more secular, and personal occasions of fullness are becoming less possible.
In Jesuit Higher Education in a Secular Age, Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, shows how Jesuit education can respond to the crisis of modernity by offering three pedagogies of fullness: study, solidarity, and grace. A pedagogy of study encourages students to explore their full range of thoughts and emotions to help amplify their self-awareness, while a pedagogy of solidarity helps them relate to the lives of others, including disparate cultural and socioeconomic realities. Together, these two pedagogies cultivate an openness in students that can help them achieve a pedagogy of grace, which validates their awareness of and receptivity to the extraordinary spiritual Other that impacts our lives.
Hendrickson demonstrates how this Jesuit imaginary—inspired by the Renaissance humanistic origins of Jesuit pedagogy—educates students toward a better self-awareness, a stronger sense of global solidarity, and a greater aptitude for inspiration, awe, and gratitude.
In the decades surrounding World War I, religious belief receded in the face of radical new ideas such as Marxism, modern science, Nietzschean philosophy, and critical theology. Modes of Faith addresses both this decline of religious belief and the new modes of secular faith that took religion’s place in the minds of many writers and poets.
Theodore Ziolkowski here examines the motives for this embrace of the secular, locating new modes of faith in art, escapist travel, socialism, politicized myth, and utopian visions. James Joyce, he reveals, turned to art as an escape while Hermann Hesse made a pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment. Other writers, such as Roger Martin du Gard and Thomas Mann, sought temporary solace in communism or myth. And H. G. Wells, Ziolkowski argues, took refuge in utopian dreams projected in another dimension altogether.
Rooted in innovative and careful comparative reading of the work of writers from France, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, Modes of Faith is a critical masterpiece by a distinguished literary scholar that offers an abundance of insight to anyone interested in the human compulsion to believe in forces that transcend the individual.
An ethnographic exploration of technoscientific immortality
Immortality has long been considered the domain of religion. But immortality projects have gained increasing legitimacy and power in the world of science and technology. With recent rapid advances in biology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence, secular immortalists hope for and work toward a future without death.
On Not Dying is an anthropological, historical, and philosophical exploration of immortality as a secular and scientific category. Based on an ethnography of immortalist communities—those who believe humans can extend their personal existence indefinitely through technological means—and an examination of other institutions involved at the end of life, Abou Farman argues that secular immortalism is an important site to explore the tensions inherent in secularism: how to accept death but extend life; knowing the future is open but your future is finite; that life has meaning but the universe is meaningless. As secularism denies a soul, an afterlife, and a cosmic purpose, conflicts arise around the relationship of mind and body, individual finitude and the infinity of time and the cosmos, and the purpose of life. Immortalism today, Farman argues, is shaped by these historical and culturally situated tensions. Immortalist projects go beyond extending life, confronting dualism and cosmic alienation by imagining (and producing) informatic selves separate from the biological body but connected to a cosmic unfolding.
On Not Dying interrogates the social implications of technoscientific immortalism and raises important political questions. Whose life will be extended? Will these technologies be available to all, or will they reproduce racial and geopolitical hierarchies? As human life on earth is threatened in the Anthropocene, why should life be extended, and what will that prolonged existence look like?
How early American Catholics justified secularism and overcame suspicions of disloyalty, transforming ideas of religious liberty in the process.In colonial America, Catholics were presumed dangerous until proven loyal. Yet Catholics went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and helped to finalize the First Amendment to the Constitution. What explains this remarkable transformation? Michael Breidenbach shows how Catholic leaders emphasized their church’s own traditions—rather than Enlightenment liberalism—to secure the religious liberty that enabled their incorporation in American life.Catholics responded to charges of disloyalty by denying papal infallibility and the pope’s authority to intervene in civil affairs. Rome staunchly rejected such dissent, but reform-minded Catholics justified their stance by looking to conciliarism, an intellectual tradition rooted in medieval Catholic thought yet compatible with a republican view of temporal independence and church–state separation. Drawing on new archival material, Breidenbach finds that early American Catholic leaders, including Maryland founder Cecil Calvert and members of the prominent Carroll family, relied on the conciliarist tradition to help institute religious toleration, including the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649.The critical role of Catholics in establishing American church–state separation enjoins us to revise not only our sense of who the American founders were, but also our understanding of the sources of secularism. Church–state separation in America, generally understood as the product of a Protestant-driven Enlightenment, was in key respects derived from Catholic thinking. Our Dear-Bought Liberty therefore offers a dramatic departure from received wisdom, suggesting that religious liberty in America was not bestowed by liberal consensus but partly defined through the ingenuity of a persecuted minority.
In Religion or Ethnicity? fifteen leading scholars trace the evolution of Jewish identity. The book examines Judaism from the Greco-Roman age, through medieval times, modern western and eastern Europe, to today. Jewish identity has been defined as an ethnicity, a nation, a culture, and even a race. Religion or Ethnicity? questions what it means to be Jewish. The contributors show how the Jewish people have evolved over time in different ethnic, religious, and political movements. In his closing essay, Gitelman questions the viability of secular Jewishness outside Israel but suggests that the continued interest in exploring the relationship between Judaism's secular and religious forms will keep the heritage alive for generations to come.
When an independent Poland reappeared on the map of Europe after World War I, it was widely regarded as the most Catholic country on the continent, as “Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter.” All the same, the relations of the Second Polish Republic with the Church—both its representatives inside the country and the Holy See itself—proved far more difficult than expected.
Based on original research in the libraries and depositories of four countries, including recently opened collections in the Vatican Secret Archives, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914–1939 presents the first scholarly history of the close but complex political relationship of Poland with the Catholic Church during the interwar period. Neal Pease addresses, for example, the centrality of Poland in the Vatican’s plans to convert the Soviet Union to Catholicism and the curious reluctance of each successive Polish government to play the role assigned to it. He also reveals the complicated story of the relations of Polish Catholicism with Jews, Freemasons, and other minorities within the country and what the response of Pope Pius XII to the Nazi German invasion of Poland in 1939 can tell us about his controversial policies during World War II.
Both authoritative and lively, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter shows that the tensions generated by the interplay of church and state in Polish public life exerted great influence not only on the history of Poland but also on the wider Catholic world in the era between the wars.
A New York Times Notable Book of the YearA Times Literary Supplement Book of the YearA Globe and Mail Best Book of the YearA Publishers Weekly Best Book of the YearA Tablet Best Book of the YearWinner of a Christianity Today Book Award“One finds big nuggets of insight, useful to almost anybody with an interest in the progress of human society.”—The Economist“Taylor takes on the broad phenomenon of secularization in its full complexity…[A] voluminous, impressively researched and often fascinating social and intellectual history.”—Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times“A Secular Age is a work of stupendous breadth and erudition.”—John Patrick Diggins, New York Times Book Review“A culminating dispatch from the philosophical frontlines. It is at once encyclopedic and incisive, a sweeping overview that is no less analytically rigorous for its breadth.”—Steven Hayward, Cleveland Plain Dealer“[A] thumping great volume.”—Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian“Very occasionally there appears a book destined to endure. A Secular Age is such a book.”—Edward Skidelsky, Daily Telegraph“It is refreshing to read an inquiry into the condition of religion that is exploratory in its approach.”—John Gray, Harper’s“A Secular Age represents a singular achievement.”—Christopher J. Insole, Times Literary Supplement“A determinedly brilliant new book.”—London Review of Books
Secular Power Europe and Islam argues that secularism is not the central principle of international relations but should be considered as one belief system that influences international politics. Through an exploration of Europe’s secular identity, an identity that is seen erroneously as normative, author Sarah Wolff shows how Islam confronts the EU’s existential anxieties about its security and its secular identity. Islam disrupts Eurocentric assumptions about democracy and revolution and human rights. Through three case studies, Wolff encourages the reader to unpack secularism as a bedrock principle of IR and diplomacy. This book argues that the EU’s interest and diplomacy activities in relation to religion, and to Islam specifically, are shaped by the insistence on a European secular identity that should be reconsidered.
Secularism: the definition of this word is as practical and urgent as income inequalities or the paths to sustainable development. In this wide-ranging analysis, Jocelyn Maclure and Charles Taylor provide a clearly reasoned, articulate account of the two main principles of secularism—equal respect, and freedom of conscience—and its two operative modes—separation of Church (or mosque or temple) and State, and State neutrality vis-à-vis religions. But more crucially, they make the powerful argument that in our ever more religiously diverse, politically interconnected world, secularism, properly understood, may offer the only path to religious and philosophical freedom.Secularism and Freedom of Conscience grew out of a very real problem—Quebec’s need for guidelines to balance the equal respect due to all citizens with the right to religious freedom. But the authors go further, rethinking secularism in light of other critical issues of our time. The relationship between religious beliefs and deeply-held secular convictions, the scope of the free exercise of religion, and the place of religion in the public sphere are aspects of the larger challenge Maclure and Taylor address: how to manage moral and religious diversity in a free society. Secularism, they show, is essential to any liberal democracy in which citizens adhere to a plurality of conceptions of what gives meaning and direction to human life. The working model the authors construct in this nuanced account is capacious enough to accommodate difference and freedom of conscience, while holding out hope for a world in which diversity no longer divides us.
Bringing clarity to a subject clouded by polemic, Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment is a rigorous exploration of how secularism and identity emerged as concepts in different parts of the modern world. At a time when secularist and religious worldviews appear irreconcilable, Akeel Bilgrami strikes out on a path distinctly his own, criticizing secularist proponents and detractors, liberal universalists and multicultural relativists alike.Those who ground secularism in arguments that aspire to universal reach, Bilgrami argues, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of politics. To those, by contrast, who regard secularism as a mere outgrowth of colonial domination, he offers the possibility of a more conceptually vernacular ground for political secularism. Focusing on the response to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Bilgrami asks why Islamic identity has so often been a mobilizing force against liberalism, and he answers the question with diagnostic sympathy, providing a philosophical framework within which the Islamic tradition might overcome the resentments prompted by its colonized past and present.Turning to Gandhi’s political and religious thought, Bilgrami ponders whether the increasing appeal of religion in many parts of the world reflects a growing disillusionment not with science but with an outlook of detachment around the rise of modern science and capitalism. He elaborates a notion of enchantment along metaphysical, ethical, and political lines with a view to finding in secular modernity a locus of meaning and value, while addressing squarely the anxiety that all such notions hark back nostalgically to a time that has past.
Ghosts. Railroads. Sing Sing. Sex machines. These are just a few of the phenomena that appear in John Lardas Modern’s pioneering account of religion and society in nineteenth-century America. This book uncovers surprising connections between secular ideology and the rise of technologies that opened up new ways of being religious. Exploring the eruptions of religion in New York’s penny presses, the budding fields of anthropology and phrenology, and Moby-Dick, Modern challenges the strict separation between the religious and the secular that remains integral to discussions about religion today.
Modern frames his study around the dread, wonder, paranoia, and manic confidence of being haunted, arguing that experiences and explanations of enchantment fueled secularism’s emergence. The awareness of spectral energies coincided with attempts to tame the unruly fruits of secularism—in the cultivation of a spiritual self among Unitarians, for instance, or in John Murray Spear’s erotic longings for a perpetual motion machine. Combining rigorous theoretical inquiry with beguiling historical arcana, Modern unsettles long-held views of religion and the methods of narrating its past.
With essays addressing secularism in India, Iran, Turkey, Great Britain, China, and the United States, this collection crucially complicates the dominant narrative by showing that secularism is multifaceted. How secularism is lived and experienced varies with its national, regional, and religious context. The essays explore local secularisms in relation to religious traditions ranging from Islam to Judaism, Hinduism to Christianity. Several contributors explicitly take up the way feminism has been implicated in the dominant secularization story. Ultimately, by dislodging secularism’s connection to the single (and singular) progress narrative, this volume seeks to open spaces for other possible narratives about both secularism and religion—as well as for other possible ways of inhabiting the contemporary world.
Contributors: Robert J. Baird, Andrew Davison, Tracy Fessenden, Janet R. Jakobsen, Laura Levitt,Molly McGarry, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Taha Parla, Geeta Patel, Ann Pellegrini, Tyler Roberts,Ranu Samantrai, Banu Subramaniam, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Angela Zito
Religion is an undiscovered country for much of the secular academy, which remains deeply ambivalent about it as an object of study. On the one hand, secular scholars agree that it is time to take religion seriously. On the other, these same scholars persist in assuming that religion rests not on belief but on power and ideology. According to Vincent Pecora, the idea of the secular itself is the source of much of the contradiction and confusion in contemporary thought about religion. Pecora aims here to work through the paradoxes of secularization, which emerges in this book as an intractable problem for cultural criticism in the nation-states of the post-Enlightenment West.
Secularization and Cultural Criticism examines the responses of a wide range of thinkers—Edward Said, Talal Asad, Jürgen Habermas, Walter Benjamin, Emile Durkheim, Carl Schmitt, Matthew Arnold, and Virginia Woolf, among others—to illustrate exactly why the problem of secularization in the study of society and culture should matter once again. Exploring the endemic difficulty posed by religion for the modern academy, Pecora makes sense of the value and potential impasses of secular cultural criticism in a global age.
Winner of a Catholic Media Association Book AwardA revelatory account of the nouvelle théologie, a clerical movement that revitalized the Catholic Church’s role in twentieth-century French political life.Secularism has been a cornerstone of French political culture since 1905, when the republic formalized the separation of church and state. At times the barrier of secularism has seemed impenetrable, stifling religious actors wishing to take part in political life. Yet in other instances, secularism has actually nurtured movements of the faithful. Soldiers of God in a Secular World explores one such case, that of the nouvelle théologie, or new theology. Developed in the interwar years by Jesuits and Dominicans, the nouvelle théologie reimagined the Church’s relationship to public life, encouraging political activism, engaging with secular philosophy, and inspiring doctrinal changes adopted by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.Nouveaux théologiens charted a path between the old alliance of throne and altar and secularism’s demand for the privatization of religion. Envisioning a Church in but not of the public sphere, Catholic thinkers drew on theological principles to intervene in political questions while claiming to remain at arm’s length from politics proper. Sarah Shortall argues that this “counter-politics” was central to the mission of the nouveaux théologiens: by recoding political statements in the ostensibly apolitical language of doctrine, priests were able to enter into debates over fascism and communism, democracy and human rights, colonialism and nuclear war. This approach found its highest expression during the Second World War, when the nouveaux théologiens led the spiritual resistance against Nazism. Claiming a powerful public voice, they collectively forged a new role for the Church amid the momentous political shifts of the twentieth century.
We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.”
In a work that is as much about the present as the past, Brad Gregory identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of the following five centuries. A hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs, an absence of any substantive common good, the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism—all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West.Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to advance the realization of this vision, not disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West. Today, what we are left with are fragments: intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse; a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief; a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vision of religion; a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism; and the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.The Unintended Reformation asks what propelled the West into this trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.
“What does it mean to say that we live in a secular age?” This apparently simple question opens into the massive, provocative, and complex A Secular Age, where Charles Taylor positions secularism as a defining feature of the modern world, not the mere absence of religion, and casts light on the experience of transcendence that scientistic explanations of the world tend to neglect.In Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, a prominent and varied group of scholars chart the conversations in which A Secular Age intervenes and address wider questions of secularism and secularity. The distinguished contributors include Robert Bellah, José Casanova, Nilüfer Göle, William E. Connolly, Wendy Brown, Simon During, Colin Jager, Jon Butler, Jonathan Sheehan, Akeel Bilgrami, John Milbank, and Saba Mahmood.Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age succeeds in conveying to readers the complexity of secularism while serving as an invaluable guide to a landmark book.
Over the past two decades secular polities across the globe have witnessed an increasing turn to religion-based political movements, such as the rise of political Islam and Hindu nationalism, which have been fueling new and alternative notions of nationhood and national ideologies. The rise of such movements has initiated widespread debates over the meaning, efficacy, and normative worth of secularism. Visualizing Secularism and Religion examines the constitutive role of religion in the formation of secular-national public spheres in the Middle East and South Asia, arguing that in order to establish secularism as the dominant national ideology of countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and India, the discourses, practices, and institutions of secular nation-building include rather than exclude religion as a presence within the public sphere. The contributors examine three fields---urban space and architecture, media, and public rituals such as parades, processions, and commemorative festivals---with a view to exploring how the relation between secularism, religion, and nationalism is displayed and performed. This approach demands a reconceptualization of secularism as an array of contextually specific practices, ideologies, subjectivities, and "performances" rather than as simply an abstract legal bundle of rights and policies.
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