The “issue” of religious plurality and diversity came to occupy a central role in the public sphere of liberal democratic states with an ampler since 9/11. Islam and so-called religious practices of ... read more
The “issue” of religious plurality and diversity came to occupy a central role in the public sphere of liberal democratic states with an ampler since 9/11. Islam and so-called religious practices of Muslims have been at the center of these discussions, often portrayed as in conflict with the democratic and secular values of European societies like in the Danish cartoon controversy, the German circumcision debate and discussions of freedom of speech surrounding the Charlie Hebdo Attacks in France. In the aim of widening the narrow focus on the “religious”, certain thinkers have altered the debate concentrating primarily on the question of the secular. Refuting the “secularization hypothesis” of the modern social sciences that reigns almost since their first emergence, scholars like Jose Casanova, Charles Taylor and Talal Asad paved the way for a new understanding of an interdependent and intertwined character of the secular and multiple religiosities. Following this line, in the seminar we are going to concentrate on “the secular” and its hegemonic role in the interpretation and representation of the debates surrounding religion. What is the content of the “secular” in terms of practices and beliefs? How has it evolved through history? What does the recent expression of a “post-secular” society imply? The first part of the seminar will be dedicated to theoretical and conceptual readings on “secularism” and “religion” in Europe. In the second part, examples of religious controversies from different European countries that reproduce the classical secular/religious divide will be discussed. We will then reflect upon the possibilities of eschewing this dichotomy in a constructive way. close
Asad, Talal, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2005.