Over the last two decades, debates on secularism and religion have become a central topic in disciplines ranging from post-colonial studies, political, and social theory to international relations and international and comparative law. The starting point for this exchange is the observation that, while “the secular” has been subjected to thorough conceptual critique, the concept of religion has remained remarkably vague. Depending on the scholar, discipline, and topic, religion features as a form of community, a type of comprehensive doctrine, a particular sort of claim in front of a court, another word for culture, a particular lived experience and practice, a position from which to critique the “enlightenment projects” secularism and liberalism, or post-modernism and post-structuralism.
But what are the implications of these different modes of operationalizing religion, and how do they determine research-agendas within and particularly across disciplinary boundaries?
Guest edited by Maria Birnbaum and Kristina Stoeckl in conjunction with the research-project ReligioWest at the European University Institute in Florence (financed by the European Research Council), this ongoing discussion invites contributors to reflect on the theoretical and methodological choices in their study of religion and the secular—and on the state of the study of religion in their discipline through and beyond critique.