Tag Archives: Religion and Politics

Volf, “Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World”

In January, Yale University Press released “Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World” by Miroslav Volf ( Yale University). The publisher’s description follows:

More than almost anything else, globalization and the great world religions are shaping our lives, affecting everything from the public policies of political leaders and the economic decisions of industry bosses and employees, to university curricula, all the way to the inner longings of our hearts. Integral to both globalization and religions are compelling, overlapping, and sometimes competing visions of what it means to live well.

In this perceptive, deeply personal, and beautifully written book, a leading theologian sheds light on how religions and globalization have historically interacted and argues for what their relationship ought to be. Recounting how these twinned forces have intersected in his own life, he shows how world religions, despite their malfunctions, remain one of our most potent sources of moral motivation and contain within them profoundly evocative accounts of human flourishing. Globalization should be judged by how well it serves us for living out our authentic humanity as envisioned within these traditions. Through renewal and reform, religions might, in turn, shape globalization so that can be about more than bread alone.

“Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe: Latvia” (Danovskis, ed.)

In January, Brill released “Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe: Latvia,” edited by Edvins Danovskis (University of Latvia).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume of Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe covers Latvia and consists of an annotated collection of legal documents affecting the status of 69066Islam and Muslims. The legal texts are published in the original Latvian language while the annotations and supporting material are in English. By legal documents are meant the texts of legislation, including relevant secondary legislation, as well as significant court decisions. Each legal text is preceded by an introduction describing the historical, political and legal circumstances of its adoption, plus a short paragraph summarising its content. The focus of the collection is on the religious dimensions of being Muslim in Europe, i.e. on individuals’ access to practise their religious obligations and on the ability to organise and manifest their religious life.

“Religions in the Modern World” (Woodhead et al., eds.)

In January, Routledge released “Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 3rd Edition” edited by Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University, UK), Christopher Partridge (Lancaster University, UK), and Hiroko Kawanami (Lancaster University, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, Third Edition is the ideal textbook for those coming to the study of religion for the first time, as well as for those who wish to keep up-to-date with the latest perspectives in the field. This third edition contains new and upgraded pedagogic features, including chapter summaries, key terms and definitions, and questions for reflection and discussion. The first part of the book considers the history and modern practices of the main religious traditions of the world, while the second analyzes trends from secularization to the rise of new spiritualities. Comprehensive and fully international in coverage, it is accessibly written by practicing and specialist teachers.

Ismail, “Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam”

In March, Oxford University Press will release “Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam” by Raihan Ismail (Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies). The publisher’s description follows:

The Saudi “ulama” are known for their strong opposition to Shi’a theology, Shi’a communities in Saudi Arabia, and external Shi’a influences such as Iran and Hezbollah. Their potent hostility, combined with the influence of the ‘ulama’ within the Saudi state and the Muslim world, has led some commentators to blame the Saudi ‘ulama’ for what they see as growing sectarian conflict in the Middle East. However, there is very little understanding of what reasoning lies behind the positions of the ‘ulama’ and there is a significant gap in the literature dealing with the polemics directed at the Shi’a by the Saudi religious establishment.

In Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam, Raihan Ismail looks at the discourse of the Saudi “ulama” regarding Shiism and Shi’a communities, analysing their sermons, lectures, publications and religious rulings. The book finds that the attitudes of the “ulama” are not only governed by their theological convictions regarding Shiism, but are motivated by political events involving the Shi’a within the Saudi state and abroad. It also discovers that political events affect the intensity and frequency of the rhetoric of the ulama at any given time.

O hAnnrachain, “Catholic Europe, 1592-1648”

In December, Oxford University Press released “Catholic Europe, 1592-1648” by Tadhg O hAnnrachain (University College Dublin). The publisher’s description follows:

Catholic Europe, 1592-1648 examines the processes of Catholic renewal from a unique perspective; rather than concentrating on the much studied heartlands of Catholic Europe, it focuses primarily on a series of societies on the European periphery and examines how Catholicism adapted to very different conditions in areas such as Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, East-Central Europe, and the Balkans. In certain of these societies, such as Austria and Bohemia, the Catholic Reformation advanced alongside very rigorous processes of state coercion. In other Habsburg territories, most notably Royal Hungary, and in Poland, Catholic monarchs were forced to deploy less confrontational methods, which nevertheless enjoyed significant measures of success. On the Western fringe of the continent, Catholic renewal recorded its greatest advances in Ireland but even in the Netherlands it maintained a significant body of adherents, despite considerable state hostility. In the Balkans, O hAnnrachain examines the manner in which the papacy invested substantially more resources and diplomatic efforts in pursuing military strategies against the Ottoman Empire than in supporting missionary and educational activity.

The chronological focus of the book is also unusual because on the peripheries of Europe the timing of Catholic reform occurred differently. Catholic Europe, 1592-1648 begins with the pontificate of Clement VIII and, rather than treating religious renewal in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as essentially a continuation of established patterns of reform, it argues for the need to understand the contingency of this process and its constant adaptation to contemporary events and preoccupations.

Shaw, “The Lost Mandate of Heaven”

In November, Ignatius Press released “The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam” by Dr. Geoffrey Shaw (Alexandrian Defense Group). The publisher’s description follows:

Ngo Dinh Diem, the first president of the Republic of Vietnam, possessed the Confucian “Mandate of Heaven”, a moral and political authority that was widely recognized by all Vietnamese. This devout Roman Catholic leader never lost this mandate in the eyes of his people; rather, he was taken down by a military coup sponsored by the U.S. government, which resulted in his brutal murder.

The commonly held view runs contrary to the above assertion by military historian Geoffrey Shaw. According to many American historians, President Diem was a corrupt leader whose tyrannical actions lost him the loyalty of his people and the possibility of a military victory over the North Vietnamese. The Kennedy Administration, they argue, had to withdraw its support of Diem.

Based on his research of original sources, including declassified documents of the U.S. government, Shaw chronicles the Kennedy administration’s betrayal of this ally, which proved to be not only a moral failure but also a political disaster that led America into a protracted and costly war. Along the way, Shaw reveals a President Diem very different from the despot portrayed by the press during its coverage of Vietnam. From eyewitness accounts of military, intelligence, and diplomatic sources, Shaw draws the portrait of a man with rare integrity, a patriot who strove to free his country from Western colonialism while protecting it from Communism.

Hadiz, “Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East”

This month, the Cambridge University Press releases “Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East,” by Vedi R. Hadiz (University of Melbourne).  The publisher’s description follows:

In a novel approach to the field of Islamic politics, this provocative new study compares the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, the country with the 9781107123601largest Muslim population in the world, to the Middle East. Utilising approaches from historical sociology and political economy, Vedi R. Hadiz argues that competing strands of Islamic politics can be understood as the product of contemporary struggles over power, material resources and the result of conflict across a variety of social and historical contexts. Drawing from detailed case studies across the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the book engages with broader theoretical questions about political change in the context of socio-economic transformations and presents an innovative, comparative framework to shed new light on the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world.

  • Charts the evolution of Islamic populism in Indonesia, comparing it to the Middle East
  • Offers a novel framework to understand the diverse trajectories of Islamic politics in the modern world
  • Engages with debates on religion, politics and social change

Tarusarira, “Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-conformism in Zimbabwe”

In March, Ashgate will release “Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-conformism in Zimbabwe” by Joram Tarusarira (University of Groningen, The Netherlands). The publisher’s description follows:

Religio-political organisations in Zimbabwe play an important role in Unknownadvocating democratisation and reconciliation, against acquiescent, silenced or co-opted mainstream churches. Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-conformism in Zimbabwe analyses activities of religious organisations that deviate from the position of mainline churches and the political elites with regard to religious participation in political matters, against a background of political conflict and violence.

Drawing on detailed case studies of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), Churches in Manicaland (CiM) and Grace to Heal (GtH), this book provocatively argues that in the face of an unsatisfactory religious and political culture, religio-political non-conformists emerge seeking to introduce a new ethos even in the face of negative sanctions from dominant religious and political systems.

Akhtar, “The Khōjā of Tanzania: Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity”

In December, Brill Publishing released “The Khōjā of Tanzania: Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity” by Iqbal Akhtar (Florida International University). The publisher’s description follows:

The Khōjā of Tanzania, Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity attempts to reconstruct the development of Khōjā religious identity from their arrival to the Swahili coast in the late 18th century until the turn of the 21st century. This multidisciplinary study incorporates Gujarati, Kacchī, Swahili, and Arabic sources to examine the formation of an Afro-Asian Islamic identity (jamatī) from their initial Indic caste identity (jñāti) towards an emergent Near Eastern imaged Islamic nation (ummatī) through four disciplinary approaches: historiography, politics, linguistics, and ethnology. Over the past two centuries, rapid transitions and discontinuities have produced the profound tensions which have resulted from the willful amnesia of their pre-Islamic Indic civilizational past for an ideological and politicized ‘Islamic’ present. This study aims to document, theorize, and engage this theological transformation of modern Khōjā religious identities as expressed through dimensions of power, language, space, and the body.

“Brunei” (ed. Gin)

In December, Routledge released “Brunei – History, Islam, Society and Contemporary Issues,” edited by Ooi Keat Gin (Universiti Sains Malaysia).  The publisher’s description follows:

Brunei, although a relatively small state, is disproportionately important on account of its rich resource base. In addition, in recent years the country has 9781138787650endeavoured to play a greater role in regional affairs, especially through ASEAN, holding the chair of the organisation in 2013, and also beyond the region, fostering diplomatic, political, economic and educational ties with many nations. This book presents much new research and new thinking on a wide range of issues concerning Brunei largely drawn from Bruneian academics. Subjects covered include Brunei’s rich history – the sultanate formerly had much more extensive territories and was a key player in regional affairs; the country’s economy, politics, society and ethnicities; and resource issues and international relations.