What is the relationship between the political and the religious? How are both domains constituted and distinguished? What processes led to the emergence of the "secular" as an epistemic category? What kinds of epistemic and practical negotiations are involved in the constitution of the "secular" and the "religious"? These are the basic questions explored in this course. Because the secular is so much part of our modern life, it is not so easy to grasp it directly. Consequently, in this seminar, we will pursue and consider the origins and grounds of the purported secularity of some preeminent modern institutions: (1) knowledge, literature, and the University, (2) state and society, and (3) the law. The principal aim of the seminar is to reflect on the question of the secular and secularism from a perspective that is historically deeper and categorically broader than the one prescribed by the usual set of well-circulated texts on the subject. We begin by exploring recent revisions of the categories of religion and the secular by contemporary political theorists, anthropologists, philosophers, and scholars of religion. We then move on to consider different sites of secularity. Throughout this course we question the assumption that secularism is a singular phenomenon by observing its global varieties. We look at Euro-American formations of secular modernity as well as debates on and modern management of religion in other parts of the world.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2018

Philip F Kennedy
M: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM 194M 210
Zehra Igsiz Matos Martin
M: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM SILV 413