Sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, in partnership with Columbia University Press, the publication series Religion, Culture, and Public Life is devoted to the investigation of the role of religion in society and culture today.
Edited by Karen Barkey, Alfred Stepan, and Mark C. Taylor, the series is dedicated to exploring the ways in which religion intersects with public life in practice and theory, and explores connections between religion and art, literature, science, politics, and history. Publications focus on issues related to questions of difference, identity, and practice within local, national, and international contexts. Special attention is paid to religious traditions in relation to conflict, violence, and intolerance, as well as to human rights, ecumenical values, and practices of mutual understanding. Drawing on diverse methodologies and different religious, social and cultural traditions, works published in the series open channels of communication that facilitate critical analysis. The series includes both single author texts and edited collections of multi-author essays, the series has published a wide range of volumes such as Refiguring the Spiritual by Mark C. Taylor; Religion in America by Denis Lacorne; What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age, edited by Courtney Bender and Ann Taves; and Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey, edited by Ahmet T. Kuru and Alfred Stepan. We encourage authors to submit manuscripts on related topics.
Over the past decade, religious, secular, and spiritual distinctions have broken down, forcing scholars to rethink secularity and its relationship to society. Since classifying a person, activity, or experience as religious or otherwise is an important act of valuation, one that defines the characteristics of a group and its relation to others, scholars are struggling to recast these concepts in our increasingly ambiguous, pluralistic world.
This collection considers religious and secular categories and what they mean to those who seek valuable, ethical lives. As they investigate how individuals and groups determine significance, set goals, and attribute meaning, contributors illustrate the ways in which religious, secular, and spiritual designations serve as markers of value. Reflecting on recent ethnographic and historical research, chapters explore contemporary psychical research and liberal American homeschooling; the work of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American psychologists and French archaeologists; the role of contemporary humanitarian and volunteer organizations based in Europe and India; and the prevalence of highly mediated and spiritualized publics, from international psy-trance festivals to Ghanaian national political contexts. Contributors particularly focus on the role of ambivalence, attachment, and disaffection in the formation of religious, secular, and spiritual identities, resetting research on secular society and contemporary religious life while illuminating what matters in the lives of ordinary individuals.
By Mark C. Taylor
Published: March 2012
Mark C. Taylor provocatively claims that contemporary art has lost its way. With the art market now mirroring the art of finance, many artists create works solely for the purpose of luring investors and inspiring trade among hedge funds and private equity firms. When art becomes a financial instrument, grounded in nothing but itself, it loses its critical edge. Its commoditization, corporatization, and financialization rob us of necessary perspective.
Joseph Beuys, Matthew Barney, James Turrell and Andy Goldsworthy are artists who differ in style, yet they all defy the trends that have diminished art’s potential in recent decades. They understand that art is a transformative practice drawing inspiration directly and indirectly from ancient and modern, eastern and western forms of spirituality. For Beuys, anthroposophy, alchemy, and shamanism drive his multimedia presentations; for Barney and Goldsworthy, Celtic mythology informs their art; and for Turrell, Quakerism and Hopi myths and rituals power his vision. Eluding traditional genres and classifications, their work combines spiritually inspired styles and techniques with material reality, creating works that resist merging space into cyberspace in ways that overwhelm local contexts with global landscapes. These artists remind us of life’s irreducible materiality and humanity’s inescapability of place. For them, art is more than just an object or process. It is a vehicle transforming human awareness through actions echoing religious ritual. By lingering over the extraordinary work of Beuys, Barney, Turrell, and Goldsworthy, Taylor creates a novel and personal encounter with their art and opens a new understanding of overlooked spiritual dimensions in our era.
While Turkey has grown as a world power, promoting the image of a progressive and stable nation, several choices in policy have strained its relationship with the East and the West. Providing historical, social, and religious context for this behavior, the essays in Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey examine issues relevant to Turkish debates and global concerns, from the state’s position on religion to its involvement with the European Union.
Written by experts in a range of disciplines, the chapters explore the toleration of diversity during the Ottoman Empire’s classical period; the erosion of ethno-religious heterogeneity in modern, pre-democratic times; Kemalism and its role in modernization and nation building; the changing political strategies of the military; and the effect of possible EU membership on domestic reforms. The essays also offer a cross-Continental comparison of “multiple secularisms,” as well as political parties, considering especially Turkey’s Justice and Development Party in relation to Europe’s Christian Democratic parties. Contributors tackle critical research questions, such as the legacy of the Ottoman Empire’s ethno-religious plurality and the way in which Turkey’s assertive secularism can be softened to allow greater space for religious actors. They address the military’s “guardian” role in Turkey’s secularism, the implications of recent constitutional amendments for democratization, and the consequences and benefits of Islamic activism’s presence within a democratic system. No other collection confronts Turkey’s contemporary evolution so vividly and thoroughly or offers such expert analysis of its crucial social and political systems.
Ahmet T. Kuru, a former postdoctoral scholar at Columbia University, is associate professor of political science at San Diego State University and chair of the Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. He is the author of Secularism and State Policies Toward Religion: The United States, France, and Turkey. Alfred Stepan is the Wallace Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia University and a former Gladstone Professor of Government at All Souls College, Oxford University. His most recent book, with Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav, is Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies, and another book with Linz, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, has been translated into nearly a dozen languages.
By Denis Lacorne
Published: July 2011
America is unique in that its political institutions preceded its development of a national identity. The American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution did not deepen a preexisting national self. Rather, it created a new political framework in which the “walls” of culture, particularly in reference to a distant past, were later added. Revisiting this moment in American history, along with the nation’s early efforts at identity-making, Denis Lacorne identifies two competing narratives drawn from a reformulation of America’s past, present, and future.
The first narrative, derived from the philosophy of the Enlightenment, is essentially secular. Associated with the Founding Fathers and reflected in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, this line of reasoning is predicated on separating religion from politics to preserve political freedom from an overpowering church.The second narrative casts national identity as the outcome of a progression toward freedom, beginning with the Reformation and culminating with the colonies of Puritan New England.
Denis Lacorne is a senior research fellow with the CERI (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales) at Sciences Po, Paris. His books include With Us or Against Us: Studies in Global Anti-Americanism and Language, Nation; and State: Identity Politics in a Multilingual Age, both with Tony Judt.
Tony Judt (1948–2010) was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor in European Studies at New York University and director of its Erich Maria Remarque Institute. His last book was The Memory Chalet.
Edited by Jack Snyder
Publish Date: April 2011
Religious concerns stand at the center of international politics, yet key paradigms in international relations, namely realism, liberalism, and constructivism, barely consider religion in their analysis of political subjects. The essays in this collection rectify this. Authored by leading scholars, they introduce models that integrate religion into the study of international politics and connect religion to a rising form of populist politics in the developing world.
Contributors identify religion as pervasive and distinctive, forcing a reframing of international relations theory that reinterprets traditional paradigms. One essay draws on both realism and constructivism in the examination of religious discourse and transnational networks. Another positions secularism not as the opposite of religion but as a comparable type of worldview drawing on and competing with religious ideas. With the secular state’s perceived failure to address popular needs, religion has become a banner for movements that demand a more responsive government. The contributors to this volume recognize this trend and propose structural and theoretical innovations for future advances in the discipline.
A critique on how religious difference is often framed as a problem only pluralism can solve. Its essays treat pluralism as concept historically and ideologically produced and explore it as a term that sets the norms of identity and the parameters of exchange, encounter and conflict. Contributors locate pluralism’s ideals in diverse sites—Broadway plays, Polish Holocaust memorials, Egyptian dream interpretations, German jails, and legal theories—and demonstrate its shaping of political and social interaction in surprising and powerful ways.
Contributors include Irene Becci, Courtney Bender, Benjamin L. Berger, Anver M. Emon, Rosemary R. Hicks, Janet R. Jakobsen, Pamela E. Klassen, Tracy Neal Leavelle, Michael D. McNally, Amira Mittermaier, Andrea Most, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, J. Terry Todd, Geneviève Zubrzycki.
Tolerance, Democracy and Sufis in Senegal
Edited by Mamadou Diouf
Publish Date: 2012