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February 11th, 2016

A thought provoking study

posted by Talal Asad

Saba Mahmood | Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority ReportIn Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report, Saba Mahmood has produced a valuable account both of how the idea of separating religion from politics came to be central to the development of the “religiously neutral” state in Europe (beginning with the Thirty Years War in the seventeenth century and culminating in the new nations after the First World War) and of how that idea became politically important in the postcolonial Middle East. In particular, she describes how in constituting religious identities, the state in modern Egypt creates unexpected opportunities for political power and social confrontation among those who seek to regulate, as well as those who claim to represent, religious minorities. Her detailed analysis of the rich historical and ethnographic material she has assembled reinforces the conclusion that instead of regarding the secular state as the solution to discrimination against religious minorities, it must itself be understood as part of the problem. So I offer a few reflections prompted by her excellent study, first on liberal ideals that are commonly said to promote equal treatment for minorities, and then about the secular anxiety that preceded the 2013 coup against the elected president Mohamed Morsi.

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February 9th, 2016

Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report—An introduction

posted by Saba Mahmood

November 16th, 2015

A clash of secularisms? The German historical experience

posted by Todd Weir

September 14th, 2015

Cosmology and the environment

posted by The Editors

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October 15th, 2015

Queer faiths: Can conversions uncover and unsettle racialized religion?

posted by Jana Glaese

Word CloudJournalists, politicians and even scholars in Europe commonly use the word “Muslim” to refer not to religion, but to a person’s national origin, ethnicity, migration background, and incomplete membership in the national imaginary. This slippage happens as religion is used as an overarching category to speak about Maghrebi and Turkish migrants, and as immigration, Islam, and delinquency are consistently mentioned in the same breath, even in governmental studies. The conflation of religious and racial categories is important to understand because it pertains to a wider tendency of veiling anti-immigrant and racist sentiments in a language of cultural critique. It also makes one wonder whether the secular ideal of separating religion, culture, and politics is unfulfilled, if not hypocritical.

Queer faiths: Can conversions uncover and unsettle racialized religion?


March 27th, 2015

Is ISIS Islamic? Why it matters for the study of Islam

posted by Anver Emon

Recent months have witnessed considerable angst in the academy over what is and isn’t Islam(ic). Spurred by events from the attacks in Paris to Graeme Wood’s Atlantic article on ISIS, scholars of Islam have agonized over whether and how to apply the label “Islamic” or “Muslim” to characterize recent events. Reviewing various commentaries, there is a limited range of arguments that, by proffering competing positivist accounts of the Islamic, thereby play into a climate of moral panic about the threat Islam poses to domestic and international orders. By playing into the moral panic, such arguments, in the aggregate, preclude both critical interrogation of the scholarly production on Islam and Muslims and reflection on the possible contribution Islamic studies can make to advanced research more broadly.

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Featured discussion

Religion and digital culture

In this series on thinking about religion in a digital age, scholars and journalists consider their respective crafts and the media through which they practice.

Featured publication

Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy

religion secularismIn this edited volume from Jean L. Cohen and Cécile Laborde, contributors call for the notion of secularism to be reformed rather than be completely jettisoned.

Featured essay

Queer faiths: Can conversions uncover and unsettle racialized religion?

Word CloudSociologist Jana Glaese asks what conversions in Germany and the United States can tell us about the entanglements of race and religion?