In March, Oxford University Press will release “The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies” by Phil Zuckerman (Pitzer College), Luke W. Galen (Grand Valley State University), and Frank L. Pasquale (cultural anthropologist). The publisher’s description follows:
The number of nonreligious people has increased dramatically over the past several decades, yet scholarship on the nonreligious is severely lacking. In response to this critical gap in knowledge, The Nonreligious provides a comprehensive summation and analysis of existing social scientific research on secular people and societies. The authors present a thorough overview of existing knowledge while also drawing upon ongoing research and suggesting ways to improve our understanding of this growing population. Offering a research- and data-based examination of the nonreligious, this book will be an invaluable source of information and a foundation for further scholarship. Written in clear, accessible language that will appeal to students and the increasingly interested general reader, The Nonreligiousprovides an unbiased and thorough account of relevant existing scholarship within the social sciences that bears on lived experiences of the nonreligious.
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.
In February, the Nordic University Press will release “Religion, Law and Democracy: New Challenges for Society and Research” edited by Anna-Sara Lind (University of Uppsala), Mia Lövenheim (University of Uppsala), and Ulf Zackariasson (University of Uppsala). The publisher’s description follows:
How are Western, mostly secular, societies handling religion in its increasingly pluralistic and complex forms? What different forms of interactions between and negotiations of religion and religious beliefs can we see in contemporary society? What are the primary contenders in these interactions and negotiations? The authors of Religion, Law and Democracy give ample examples of a variety of interaction processes between different expressions of religion and different spheres of society, such as the media, the judicial systems and state administration and policy. The authors primarily approach these questions from a North European but also to some extent a global perspective. A common denominator is a dynamic perspective on the relation between religious organizations, society and the individual actors – in other words how all of these levels are interconnected and transformed in these processes.
In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Race and Secularism in America,” edited by Jonathon S. Kahn (Vassar College) and Vincent W. Lloyd (Syracuse University). The publisher’s description follows:
This anthology draws bold comparisons between secularist strategies to contain, privatize, and discipline religion and the treatment of racialized subjects by the American state. Specializing in history, literature, anthropology, theology, religious studies, and political theory, contributors expose secularism’s prohibitive practices in all facets of American society and suggest opportunities for change.
In January, Routledge Press will release “Islamic NGOs in Bangladesh: Development, Piety and Neoliberal Governmentality,” by Mohammad Musfequs Salehin (University of Bergen). The publisher’s description follows:
NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have emerged in both a development and aid capacity in Bangladesh, providing wide-reaching public services to the country’s population living in extreme poverty. However, resistance to and limitations of NGO-led development – which in conjunction with Bangladesh’s social transformation – led to a new religious-based NGO development practice.
Looking at the role of Islamic NGOs in Bangladesh, the book investigates new forms of neoliberal governmentality supported by international donors. It discusses how this form of social regulation produces and reproduces subjectivities, particularly Muslim women subjectivity, and has combined religious and economic rationality, further complicating the boundaries and the relationship between Islam, modernity, and development. The book argues that both secular and Islamic NGOs target women in the name of empowerment but more importantly as the most reliable partners to meet their debt obligations of micro-financing schemes, including shari’a-based financing. The targeted women, in turn, experience Islamic NGOs as less coercive and more sensitive to their religious environment in the rural village community than are secular NGOs.
Providing a comparative study of the role of religious and secular NGOs in the implementation of neoliberal policies and development strategies, this book will be a significant addition to research on South Asian Politics, Development Studies, Gender Studies, and Religion.
In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Beyond the Secular West,” edited by Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows:
What is the character of secularism in countries that were not pervaded by Christianity, such as China, India, and the nations of the Middle East? To what extent is the secular an imposition of colonial rule? Has modern secularism evolved organically, or is it even necessary, and has it always meant progress? How does secularism comport with local religious cultures in Africa, and how does it work with local forms of power and governance in Latin America?
A vital extension of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, in which he exhaustively chronicled the emergence of secularism in Latin Christendom, this anthology applies Taylor’s findings to secularism’s global migration. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Nacim, Rajeev Bhargava, Akeel Bilgrami, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Sudipta Kaviraj, Claudio Lomnitz, Alfred Stepan, Charles Taylor, and Peter van der Veer each explore the transformation of Western secularism beyond Europe, and the collection closes with Taylor’s response to each essay. What began as a modern reaction to—as well as a stubborn extension of—Latin Christendom has become a complex export shaped by the world’s religious and political systems. Brilliantly alternating between intellectual and methodological approaches, this volume fosters a greater engagement with the phenomenon across disciplines.
In September, Routledge released “European Culture Wars and the Italian Case: Which side are you on?” by Luca Ozzano (University of Turin) and Alberta Giorgi (University of Coimbra). The publisher’s description follows:
This book aims to understand the European political debate about contentious issues, framed in terms of religious values by religious and/or secular actors in 21st century. It specifically focuses on the Italian case, which, due to its peculiar history and contemporary political landscape, is a paradigmatic case for the study of the relationships between religion and politics.
In recent years, a number of controversies related to religious issues have characterised the European public debate at both the EU and the national level. The ‘affaire du foulard’ in France, the referendum on abortion in Portugal, the recognition of same-sex marriages in many Western European States, the debate over bioethics and the regulation of euthanasia are only a few examples of contentious issues involving religion. This book aims to shed light on the interrelation between these different debates, as well as their broader meaning, through the analysis of the paradigmatic case of Italy. Italy summarizes and sometimes exasperates wider European trends, both because of the peculiar role traditionally played by the Vatican in Italian politics and for the rise, since the 1990s, of new political entrepreneurs eager to exploit ethical and civilizational issues.
This work will be of great interest to scholars and students of a number of fields within the disciplines of political science, sociology and law, and will be useful for courses on religion and politics, political parties, social movements and civil society.
In January, Ashgate will release “(Un)Believing in Modern Society: Religion, Spirituality, and Religious-Secular Competition” by Jörg Stolz (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Mallory Schneuwly Purdie (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Thomas Englberger (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Judith Könemann (University of Münster, Germany), and Michael Krüggeler (University of Münster, Germany). The publisher’s description follows:
This landmark study in the sociology of religion sheds new light on the question of what has happened to religion and spirituality since the 1960s in modern societies. Exposing several analytical weaknesses of today’s sociology of religion, (Un)Believing in Modern Society presents a new theory of religious-secular competition and a new typology of ways of being religious/secular. The authors draw on a specific European society (Switzerland) as their test case, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to show how the theory can be applied. Identifying four ways of being religious/secular in a modern society: ‘institutional’, ‘alternative’, ‘distanced’ and ‘secular’ they show how and why these forms have emerged as a result of religious-secular competition and describe in what ways all four forms are adapted to the current, individualized society.
Next month, Columbia University Press will release “Reimagining the Sacred” edited by Richard Kearney (Boston College) and Jens Zimmermann (Trinity Western University). The publisher’s description follows:
Contemporary conversations about religion and culture are framed by two reductive definitions of secularity. In one, multiple faiths and nonfaiths coexist free from a dominant belief in God. In the other, we deny the sacred altogether and exclude religion from rational thought and behavior. But is there a third way for those who wish to rediscover the sacred in a skeptical society? What kind of faith, if any, can be proclaimed after the ravages of the Holocaust and the many religion-based terrors since?
Richard Kearney explores these questions with a host of philosophers known for their inclusive, forward-thinking work on the intersection of secularism, politics, and religion. An interreligious dialogue that refuses to paper over religious difference, these conversations locate the sacred within secular society and affirm a positive role for religion in human reflection and action. Drawing on his own philosophical formulations, literary analysis, and personal interreligious experiences, Kearney develops through these engagements a basic gesture of hospitality for approaching the question of God. His work facilitates a fresh encounter with our best-known voices in continental philosophy and their views on issues of importance to all spiritually minded individuals and skeptics: how to reconcile God’s goodness with human evil, how to believe in both God and natural science, how to talk about God without indulging in fundamentalist rhetoric, and how to balance God’s sovereignty with God’s love.
In January, HarperCollins Publishers will release “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage,” by Stephen Prothero (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows:
In this timely, carefully reasoned social history of the United States, the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One places today’s heated culture wars within the context of a centuries-long struggle of right versus left and religious versus secular to reveal how, ultimately, liberals always win.
Though they may seem to be dividing the country irreparably, today’s heated cultural and political battles between right and left, Progressives and Tea Party, religious and secular are far from unprecedented. In this engaging and important work, Stephen Prothero reframes the current debate, viewing it as the latest in a number of flashpoints that have shaped our national identity. Prothero takes us on a lively tour through time, bringing into focus the election of 1800, which pitted Calvinists and Federalists against Jeffersonians and “infidels;” the Protestants’ campaign against Catholics in the mid-nineteenth century; the anti-Mormon crusade of the Victorian era; the fundamentalist-modernist debates of the 1920s; the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s; and the current crusade against Islam.
As Prothero makes clear, our culture wars have always been religious wars, progressing through the same stages of conservative reaction to liberal victory that eventually benefit all Americans. Drawing on his impressive depth of knowledge and detailed research, he explains how competing religious beliefs have continually molded our political, economic, and sociological discourse and reveals how the conflicts which separate us today, like those that came before, are actually the byproduct of our struggle to come to terms with inclusiveness and ideals of “Americanness.” To explore these battles, he reminds us, is to look into the soul of America—and perhaps find essential answers to the questions that beset us.
Posted in Christina Vlahos, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged American History, Books, Christianity, Islam, Law and Culture, Law and Religion, Protestantism, Religion and Political Theory, Religion and Politics, Religion and Society, Religion in America, Same-sex Marriage, Secularism