Tag Archives: Religion and Society

Bouasria, “Sufism and Politics in Morocco”

This January, Routledge Press will release “Sufism and Politics in Morocco: Activism and Dissent” by Abdelilah Bouasria (George Mason University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Presenting a political history and sociology of Moroccan Sufism from colonialism to the modern day, this book studies the Sufi model of Master and Disciple in relation to social and political life, comparing the different eras of acquiescent versus dissident Sufism.

This comparative fieldwork study offers new perspectives on the connection between the monarchy and mystic realms with a specific coverage of the Boutchichi order and Abdessalam Yassine’s Al Adl Wal Ihsane, examining the myth of apolitical Sufism throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Drawing on Michel Foucault and James Scott, this book fuses thinking about the political dimension of Sufism, a “hidden transcript,” involving power struggles, patronage and justice and its esoteric spiritual ethics of care.

Addressing the lacuna in English language literature on the Boutchichi Sufi order in Morocco, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Islamic Studies, Comparative Politics and the MENA region.

“Religion, Postcolonialism, and Globalization: A Sourcebook” (Reid, ed.)

In February, Bloomsbury Press will release “Religion, Postcolonialism, and Globalization: A Sourcebook,” by Jennifer Reid (University of Maine, Farmington). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion, Postcolonialism and Globalization: A Sourcebook shows how the roots of our globalized world run deeper than the 1980s or even the end of WWII, tracing back to 15th century European colonial expansion through which the ‘modern world system’ came into existence.

The Sourcebook is divided into four sections, each with a critical introduction by the editor, a series of readings, and discussion questions based on the readings. Canonical readings in religion, globalization and postcolonialism are paired with lesser-known texts in order to invite critical analysis. Extracts explored include work by Max Weber, Edward Said, David Chidester, and Kant, as well as political documents such as the British Parliament’s 1813 Act regarding the East India Company. Sources range from the origins of the common phrase “jihad vs. McWorld” in the work of Benjamin Barber, to personal essays reflecting religious responses to globalization.

Focusing on a history of religions approach, Religion, Postcolonialism, and Globalization provides an alternative to existing sociological work on religion and globalization.

O’Malley, “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present”

In October, Rowman & Littlefield released “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present” by John W. O’Malley, S.J. (Georgetown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

As Pope Francis continues to make his mark on the church, there is increased interest in his Jesuit background—what is the Society of Jesus, how is it different from other religious orders, and how has it shaped the world? In “The Jesuits,” acclaimed historian John W. O’Malley, SJ, provides essential historical background from the founder Ignatius of Loyola through the present.

The book tells the story of the Jesuits’ great successes as missionaries, educators, scientists, cartographers, polemicists, theologians, poets, patrons of the arts, and confessors to kings. It tells the story of their failures and of the calamity that struck them in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV suppressed them worldwide. It tells how a subsequent pope restored them to life and how they have fared to this day in virtually every country in the world. Along the way it introduces readers to key figures in Jesuit history, such as Matteo Ricci and Pedro Arrupe, and important Jesuit writings, such as the Spiritual Exercises.

“Sensible Religion” (Lewis & Cohn-Sherbok, eds.)

In September, Ashgate Publishing released “Sensible Religion” edited by Christopher Lewis (University of Oxford) and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (University of Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

Around the globe religion is under attack. Humanists, secularists and atheists depict believers as deluded and dangerous. The aim of this book is to challenge this perception. Sensible Religion defends the validity and emphasises the excitement of the religious quest across the faiths. It demonstrates that the practice of sensible religion is often a courageous path pitted against religious extremism and secularism. Written by committed believers from the major world’s faiths, the book endorses the term ‘sensible’ as expressing religious reasonableness as well as sensitivity to criticism and new insights. Followers of the different traditions live ordinary lives in the mainstream of the world. This volume therefore addresses beliefs and the manner in which these convictions relate to social, political and ethical action. Countering the argument that religion is at root extremist and irrational, “Sensible Religion” brings together thoughtful and critical reflections by leading thinkers about humanity’s spiritual quest.

Manseau, “One Nation, Under Gods”

This January, Little, Brown and Company Publishing will release “One Nation, Under Gods:  The Hidden History of the Religious United States” by Peter Manseau (Smithsonian Fellow).  The publisher’s description follows:

One Nation, Under GodsAt the heart of the nation’s spiritual history are audacious and often violent scenes. But the Puritans and the shining city on the hill give us just one way to understand the United States. Rather than recite American history from a Christian vantage point, Peter Manseau proves that what really happened is worth a close, fresh look.

Thomas Jefferson himself collected books on all religions and required that the brand new Library of Congress take his books, since Americans needed to consider the “twenty gods or no god” he famously noted were revered by his neighbors. Looking at the Americans who believed in these gods, Manseau fills in America’s story of itself, from the persecuted “witches” at Salem and who they really were, to the persecuted Buddhists in WWII California, from spirituality and cults in the ’60s to the recent presidential election where both candidates were for the first time non-traditional Christians.

One Nation, Under Gods shows how much more there is to the history we tell ourselves, right back to the country’s earliest days. Dazzling in its scope and sweep, it is an American history unlike any you’ve read.

“Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion” (McKinnon & Trzebiatowska, eds.)

This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion” edited by Andrew McKinnon and Marta Trzebiatowska (both at the University of Aberdeen, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

Religion lies near the heart of the classical sociological tradition, yet it no longer occupies the same place within the contemporary sociological enterprise. This relative absence has left sociology under-prepared for thinking about religion’s continuing importance in new issues, movements, and events in the twenty-first century. This book seeks to address this lacunae by offering a variety of theoretical perspectives on the study of religion that bridge the gap between mainstream concerns of sociologists and the sociology of religion.

Following an assessment of the current state of the field, the authors develop an emerging critical perspective within the sociology of religion with particular focus on the importance of historical background. Re-assessing the themes of aesthetics, listening and different degrees of spiritual self-discipline, the authors draw on ethnographic studies of religious involvement in Norway and the UK. They highlight the importance of power in the sociology of religion with help from Pierre Bourdieu, Marx and Critical Discourse Analysis. This book points to emerging currents in the field and offers a productive and lively way forward, not just for sociological theory of religion, but for the sociology of religion more generally.

Lopes, “Tibetan Buddhism in Diaspora: Cultural Re-signification in Practice and Institutions”

In December, Routledge Press will release “Tibetan Buddhism in Diaspora: Cultural Re-signification in Practice and Institutions” by Ana Cristina O. Lopes (University of São Paulo). The publisher’s description follows:

The imperialist ambitions of China – which invaded Tibet in the late 1940s – have sparked the spectacular spread of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide, and especially in western countries. This work is a study on the malleability of a particular Buddhist tradition; on its adaptability in new contexts.

The book analyses the nature of the Tibetan Buddhism in the Diaspora. It examines how the re-signification of Tibetan Buddhist practices and organizational structures in the present refers back to the dismantlement of the Tibetan state headed by the Dalai Lama and the fragmentation of Tibetan Buddhist religious organizations in general. It includes extensive multi-sited fieldwork conducted in the United States, Brazil, Europe, and Asia and a detailed analysis of contemporary documents relating to the global spread of Tibetan Buddhism. The author demonstrates that there is a “de-institutionalized” and “de-territorialized” project of political power and religious organization, which, among several other consequences, engenders the gradual “autonomization” of lamas and lineages inside the religious field of Tibetan Buddhism. Thus, a spectre of these previous institutions continues to exist outside their original contexts, and they are continually activated in ever-new settings.

Using a combination of two different academic traditions – namely, the Brazilian anthropological tradition and the American Buddhist studies tradition – it investigates the “process of cultural re-signification” of Tibetan Buddhism in the context of its Diaspora. Thus, it will be a valuable resource to students and scholars of Asian Religion, Asian Studies and Buddhism.

 

Gold, “Provincial Hinduism”

This January, Oxford University Press will release “Provincial Hinduism: Religion and Community in Gwalior City” by Daniel Gold (Cornell University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Provincial HinduismProvincial Hinduism explores intersecting religious worlds in an ordinary Indian city that remains close to its traditional roots, while bearing witness to the impact of globalization. Daniel Gold looks at modern religious life in the central Indian city of Gwalior, drawing attention to the often complex religious sensibilities behind ordinary Hindu practice. Gold describes temples of different types, their legendary histories, and the people who patronize them. He also explores the attraction of Sufi shrines for many Gwalior Hindus. Delicate issues of socioreligious identity are highlighted through an examination of neighbors living together in a locality mixed in religion, caste, and class. Pursuing issues of community and identity, Gold turns to Gwalior’s Maharashtrians and Sindhis, groups with roots in other parts of the subcontinent that have settled in the city for generations. These groups function as internal diasporas, organizing in different ways and making distinctive contributions to local religious life. The book concludes with a focus on new religious institutions invoking nineteenth-century innovators: three religious service organizations inspired by the great Swami Vivekenanda, and two contemporary guru-centered groups tracing lineages to Radhasoami Maharaj of Agra.

Gold offers the first book-length study to analyze religious life in an ordinary, midsized Indian city, and in so doing has created an invaluable resource for scholars of contemporary Indian religion, culture, and society.

“Radical Secularization? An Inquiry into the Religious Roots of Secular Culture” (Latré et. al., eds.)

Next month, Bloomsbury Publishing will release “Radical Secularization? An Inquiry into the Religious Roots of Secular Culture”  edited by Stijn Latré, Walter Van Herck, and Guido Vanheeswijck (all of the University of Antwerp, Belgium). The publisher’s description follows:

What does it mean for a society to be secular? Answering this question from a philosophical angle, “Radical Secularization?” delves into the philosophical presuppositions of secularization. Which cultural evolutions made secularization possible? International scholars from different disciplines assess the answers given by many leading philosophers such as, among others, Löwith, Blumenberg and Habermas (Germany), Gauchet and Nancy (France), Taylor and Bellah (North America). They examine the theory that secularization cannot only be regarded as a cultural change that was forced upon religion from an external source (e.g. science), but should also be considered as a phenomenon triggered by motives internal to religion. If religions are indeed capable of inner transformations, the question arises whether religions can persist in the secular societies they inadvertently helped to bring about, and how secular societies may accommodate religion.

Garelli, “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country”

This month, Ashgate Publishing releases “Religion Italian Style: Continuities and Changes in a Catholic Country” by Franco Garelli (University of Turin, Italy). The publisher’s description follows:

Italy’s traditional subcultures – Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Republican, Right-wing – have largely dissolved and yet Catholics have retained their vitality and solidity. How can the vast majority of Italians continue to maintain some connection with Catholicism? How much is the Italian situation influenced by the closeness of the Vatican?

Examining the religious condition of contemporary Italy, Religion Italian Style argues that the relationship between religion and society in Italy has unique characteristics when compared with what is happening in other European Catholic Countries. Exploring key topics and religious trends which question how the population feel – from the laity and the role of religions in the public sphere, to moral debates, forms of religious pluralism, and new spiritualities – this book questions how these affect religious life, and how intricately religion is interwoven with the nation’s fabric and the dynamics of the whole society.