This month, University of California Press will release Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural Age, edited by Christopher Grenda (Bronx Community College and City University of New York), Chris Beneke (Bentley University), and David Nash (Oxford Brookes University). The publisher’s description follows:
Humans have been uttering profane words and incurring the consequences for millennia. But contemporary events—from the violence in 2006 that followed Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed to the 2012 furor over the Innocence of Muslims video—indicate that controversy concerning blasphemy has reemerged in explosive transnational form. In an age when electronic media transmit offense as rapidly as profane images and texts can be produced, blasphemy is bracingly relevant again.
In this volume, a distinguished cast of international scholars examines the profound difficulties blasphemy raises for modern societies. Contributors examine how the sacred is formed and maintained, how sacrilegious expression is conceived and regulated, and how the resulting conflicts resist easy adjudication. Their studies range across art, history, politics, law, literature, and theology. Because of the global nature of the problem, the volume’s approach is comparative, examining blasphemy across cultural and geopolitical boundaries.
In August, Lexington Books is releasing Buddhist Responses to Globalization, edited by Leah Kalmanson (Drake University) and James Mark Shields (Bucknell University). The publisher’s description follows:
This interdisciplinary collection of essays highlights the relevance of Buddhist doctrine and practice to issues of globalization. From various philosophical, religious, historical, and political perspectives, the authors show that Buddhism—arguably the world’s first transnational religion—is a rich resource for navigating today’s interconnected world. Buddhist Responses to Globalization addresses globalization as a contemporary phenomenon, marked by economic, cultural, and political deterritorialization, and also proposes concrete strategies for improving global conditions in light of these facts. Topics include Buddhist analyses of both capitalist and materialist economies; Buddhist religious syncretism in highly multicultural areas such as Honolulu; the changing face of Buddhism through the work of public intellectuals such as Alice Walker; and Buddhist responses to a range of issues including reparations and restorative justice, economic inequality, spirituality and political activism, cultural homogenization and nihilism, and feminist critique. In short, the book looks to bring Buddhist ideas and practices into direct and meaningful, yet critical, engagement with both the facts and theories of globalization.
In September, Northwestern University Press will publish Muslims in Kenyan Politics: Political Involvement, Marginalization, and Minority Status by Hassan Ndzovuis (Moi University, Kenya). The publisher’s description follows:
Muslims in Kenyan Politics explores the changing relationship between Muslims and the state in Kenya from precolonial times to the present, culminating in the radicalization of a section of the Muslim population in recent decades. The politicization of Islam in Kenya is deeply connected with the sense of marginalization that shapes Muslims’ understanding of Kenyan politics and government policies.
Kenya’s Muslim population comprises ethnic Arabs, Indians, and black Africans, and its status has varied historically. Under British rule, an imposed racial hierarchy affected Muslims particularly, thwarting the development of a united political voice. Drawing on a broad range of interviews and historical research, Ndzovu presents a nuanced picture of political associations during the postcolonial period and explores the role of Kenyan Muslims as political actors.
Last month, Cambridge University Press released Money as God: The Monetization of the Market and its Impact on Religion, Politics, Law, and Ethics edited by Jürgen von Hagen (Universität Bonn) and Michael Welker (Universität Heidelberg). The publisher’s description follows:
The nature of money and its impact on society has long interested scholars of economics, history, philosophy, law, and theology alike, and the recent financial crisis has moved these issues to the forefront of current public debate. In this study, authors from a range of backgrounds provide a unified examination of the nature and the purpose of money. Chapters cover the economic and social foundations of money; the historical origins of money in ancient Greece, China, the ancient Middle East, and medieval Europe; problems of justice connected to the use of money in legal systems and legal settlements, with examples both from ancient history and today; and theological aspects of monetary and market exchange. This stimulating interdisciplinary book, with its nontechnical and lively discussion, will appeal to a global readership working in the interfaces of economics, law and religion.
This week, Eerdmans releases At the Limits of the Secular: Reflections on Faith and Public Life, edited by William A. Barbieri, Jr. The publisher’s description follows:
This volume presents an integrated collection of constructive essays by eminent Catholic scholars addressing the new challenges and opportunities facing religious believers under shifting conditions of secularity and “post-secularity.”
Using an innovative “keywords” approach, At the Limits of the Secular is an interdisciplinary effort to think through the implications of secular consciousness for the role of religion in public affairs. The book responds in some ways to Charles Taylor’s magnum opus, A Secular Age, although it also stands on its own. It features an original essay by David Tracy — the most prominent American Catholic theologian writing today — and groundbreaking contributions by influential younger theologians such as Peter Casarella, William Cavanaugh, and Vincent Miller.
Next month, New York University Press will publish Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic by Heather Miyano Kopelson (University of Alabama). The publisher’s description follows.
In the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, religious beliefs and practices played a central role in creating racial identity. English Protestantism provided a vocabulary and structure to describe and maintain boundaries between insider and outsider. In this path-breaking study, Heather Miyano Kopelson peels back the layers of conflicting definitions of bodies and competing practices of faith in the puritan Atlantic, demonstrating how the categories of “white,” “black,” and “Indian” developed alongside religious boundaries between “Christian” and “heathen” and between “Catholic” and “Protestant.”
Faithful Bodies focuses on three communities of Protestant dissent in the Atlantic World: Bermuda, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In this “puritan Atlantic,” religion determined insider and outsider status: at times Africans and Natives could belong as long as they embraced the Protestant faith, while Irish Catholics and English Quakers remained suspect. Colonists’ interactions with indigenous peoples of the Americas and with West Central Africans shaped their understandings of human difference and its acceptable boundaries. Prayer, religious instruction, sexual behavior, and other public and private acts became markers of whether or not blacks and Indians were sinning Christians or godless heathens. As slavery became law, transgressing people of color counted less and less as sinners in English puritans’ eyes, even as some of them made Christianity an integral part of their communities. As Kopelson shows, this transformation proceeded unevenly but inexorably during the long seventeenth century.
This August, NYU Press will publish Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities by Darren Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows.
More than anywhere else in the Western world, religious attachments in America are quite flexible, with over 40 percent of U.S. citizens shifting their religious identification at least once in their lives. In Changing Faith, Darren E. Sherkat draws on empirical data from large-scale national studies to provide a comprehensive portrait of religious change and its consequences in the United States.
With analysis spanning across generations and ethnic groups, the volume traces the evolution of the experience of Protestantism and Catholicism in the United States, the dramatic growth of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, and the rise of non-identification, now the second most common religious affiliation in the country. Drawing on that wealth of data, it details the impact of religious commitments on broad arenas of American social life, including family and sexuality, economic well-being, political commitments, and social values.
Exploring religious change among those of European heritage as well as of Eastern and Western European immigrants, African Americans, Asians, Latin Americans, and Native Americans, Changing Faith not only provides a comprehensive and ethnically inclusive demographic overview of the juncture between religion and ethnicity within both the private and public sphere, but also brings empirical analysis back to the sociology of religion.
In August, University of Toronto Press will publish Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond, edited by Paul Bramadat (University of Victoria) and Lorne Dawson (University of Waterloo). The publisher’s description follows.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, those in
London and Madrid, and the arrest of the “Toronto 18,” Canadians have changed how they think about terrorism and security. As governments respond to the potential threat of homegrown radicalism, many observers have become concerned about the impact of those security measures on the minority groups whose lives are “securitized.”
In Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond, Paul Bramadat and Lorne Dawson bring together contributors from a wide range of academic disciplines to examine the challenges created by both religious radicalism and the state’s and society’s response to it. This collection takes a critical look at what is known about religious radicalization, how minorities are affected by radicalization from within and securitization from without, and how the public, media, and government are attempting to cope with the dangers of both radicalization and securitization.
Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond is an ideal guide to the ongoing debates on how best to respond to radicalization without sacrificing the commitments to multiculturalism and social justice that many Canadians hold dear.
In August, Oxford University Press will publish Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal by Neilesh Bose (University of North Texas). The publisher’s description follows.
Recasting the Region studies the trajectories of Muslim Bengali politics and examines the literary and cultural history of Bengali Muslims from the early twentieth century until the 1952 Language Movement. It argues that Muslim political mobilization in late colonial Bengal did not emanate from north Indian calls for a separatist ‘Muslim’ state of Pakistan, but rather emerged out of a sustained engagement with local Bengali intellectual and literary traditions.
In six chapters, the book features meticulous research on topics like the pursuit of folklore, literary modernism, and intellectual movements in both Dhaka and Kolkata in the late colonial period. Examining language literary texts, the social histories of newspaper and magazine offices, and the writings of Bengali Muslim politicians and intellectuals, the book delves into the meaning of nationalism and decolonization for the Bengali Muslims.
Focusing on the cultural history of the largest Muslim population of the colonial era, the Bengali Muslims, this work utilizes heretofore unexplored Bengali sources as well as offers a new interpretation of the emergence of the state of Pakistan.
In August, Oxford University Press will publish Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past by Sally Howell (University of Michigan-Dearborn). The publisher’s description follows.
Across North America, Islam is portrayed as a religion of immigrants, converts, and cultural outsiders. Yet Muslims have been part of American society for much longer than most people realize. This book documents the history of Islam in Detroit, a city that is home to several of the nation’s oldest, most diverse Muslim communities. In the early 1900s, there were thousands of Muslims in Detroit. Most came from Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and British India. In 1921, they built the nation’s first mosque in Highland Park. By the 1930s, new Islam-oriented social movements were taking root among African Americans in Detroit. By the 1950s, Albanians, Arabs, African Americans, and South Asians all had mosques and religious associations in the city, and they were confident that Islam could be, and had already become, an American religion. When immigration laws were liberalized in 1965, new immigrants and new African American converts rapidly became the majority of U.S. Muslims. For them, Detroit’s old Muslims and their mosques seemed oddly Americanized, even unorthodox.
Old Islam in Detroit explores the rise of Detroit’s earliest Muslim communities. It documents the culture wars and doctrinal debates that ensued as these populations confronted Muslim newcomers who did not understand their manner of worship or the American identities they had created. Looking closely at this historical encounter, Old Islam in Detroit provides a new interpretation of the possibilities and limits of Muslim incorporation in American life. It shows how Islam has become American in the past and how the anxieties many new Muslim Americans and non-Muslims feel about the place of Islam in American society today are not inevitable, but are part of a dynamic process of political and religious change that is still unfolding.