Menue phone

Articles

Here you will find an overview of the journal articles and articles published in edited volumes by the research group and its members.

Use the search box below to search through all titles and abstracts and find articles that are relevant to you more quickly.

2023

Progressif et illibérale: La critique ash’arite de l’état politique au XIe-siècle

Neguin Yavari

Progressif et illibérale: La critique ash’arite de l’état politique au XIe-siècle

The eleventh century brought a new political order to the eastern Islamic lands. It would be a mistake to assume that the political and scholarly elites of the era were merely sleepwalking into a new world. The intellectual record preserves a fierce debate among competing conceptions of legitimate rule and good governance, often linked to varying theologies of what was conceived as true “Islam.” What brought the intellectuals, the mystics, the clerics and the politicians together was the realization that without an overarching Islamic umbrella, the polity could not hold. The chapter also highlights the double function of religious discourse, at the same time critic and savior of the Abbasid polity. More importantly, the practical regard of intellectual debates, in the modern academy considered as an exclusive purview of Western intellectual history and the key to the emergence of modern politics in the West, is brought under sharp relief.

Yavari, Neguin. “Progressif et illibérale: La critique ash’arite de l’état politique au XIe-siècle.” In Liberté de parole: Les elites savantes et la critique des pouvoirs, Orient et Occident, VIIIe-XIIIe siècle, edited by Makram Abbés, and Marie-Celine Isaïa, 361–76. Turnhout: Brepols, 2023.

2023

Faith, Authenticity, and Pro-Social Values in the Lives of Young People in Germany

Christel Gärtner, and Linda Hennig

Faith, Authenticity, and Pro-Social Values in the Lives of Young People in Germany

Increasing secularization, pluralization, and individualization have done much to weaken denominational identities and traditional religiosity in most Western countries since the 1960s, with the effect that—to echo Niklas Luhmann—being religious requires purely religious reasons. This also applies to young people, for whom religion is still an option, but precisely one option among others, and according to Charles Taylor quite a challenging one. In our article, we want to focus on young people who actively engage with faith and religion, and who take up a different position with regard to religion than their peers during their adolescence. The data are in-depth interviews with families with three generations present. We will explore the ways in which teenagers (aged 12–19) and young adults (aged 22–25) are confronted with religious issues, as well as how they decide upon these issues and justify their decisions. We will argue that both the societal context and the life phase of adolescence or young adulthood make it likely that a person will base decisions regarding religion upon the criterion of authenticity. Our findings demonstrate that especially positioning towards the question of belief can be a lengthy and conflictual process. We identified two main forms of religiosity that are socially accepted in contemporary society: deriving a sense of social responsibility from faith and transforming and translating belief and religious experience into secular contexts


Gärtner, Christel, and Linda Hennig. "Faith, Authenticity, and Pro-Social Values in the Lives of Young People in Germany." In Religions 13:925 (2022).

2023

Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony

Rajeev Bhargava

Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony

This essay explores the Asokan politico-moral ethic, called Dhamma, and the role of moral and intellectual leadership in it both within the king’s own territory and beyond it. It shows that one of the central aspirations of Asoka’s Dhamma is a form of universalism, to shape the global order by sending emissaries all over the world. At appropriate junctures, it shows similarities of Asoka’s views to Xunzi’s as enunciated and compared by Yan Xuetong in this volume with Kautilya’s political vision. Kautilya provides somewhat of a contrast to Xunzi, whereas Asoka and Xunzi share many similarities. A comparison between Xunzi and Asoka is equally interesting, perhaps even more appropriate. At the core of Asoka’s edicts lies his conception of Dhamma, a set of precepts about how to lead a good individual and collective life. Dhamma is generally understood in India’s scholarly tradition to mean “law.” But in a recent essay, Patrick Olivelle has proposed that Dhamma be reconceived as civic religion, a term revived by Robert Bellah, after Rousseau first coined it in his classic work, The Social Contract.


Bhargava, Rajeev. "Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony." In Bridging Two Worlds, ed. Amitav Acharya, Daniel A. Bell, Rajeev Bhargava, and Yan Xuetong. California: University of California Press, 2023.

2022

Sozialistische Dämonen? Sansibarische Geister zwischen Islam, Magie und Identitätspolitik

Magnus Echtler

Sozialistische Dämonen? Sansibarische Geister zwischen Islam, Magie und Identitätspolitik

Focusing on the Swahili New Year’s festival, my article discusses the position of spirits in between religion and politics in the society of Zanzibar. New Year’s rituals maintained reciprocal relations between humans and spirits, and these relations defined local identities and legitimized the use natural resources. In this respect, Zanzibar spirits resembled ancestors in other African contexts, but they were conceptualized as entities distinct from humans, as Koranic djinns or shaytans. For many Zanzibar Muslims, relations to spirits were everyday affairs, although these practices were classified as custom (mila) only, as opposed to proper religion (dini). Only adherents of reformist Islam considered them as idolatry (ushirikina), and condemned them generally. This modern religious critique of spirits in turn defined their political significance. After the revolution of 1964 overthrew the Sultanate, the socialist ruling party proclaimed an African nationalism, while the opposition linked Zanzibar identity with the Islamicate world and joined forces with reformist movements. While some spirits proclaimed socialist identity, the socialist party started performing political rituals at the New Year’s festival in the 1980s, and in 2002, the president of Zanzibar declared that the festival represented the culture (utamaduni) of all the people of Zanzibar.


Echtler, Magnus. "Sozialistische Dämonen? Sansibarische Geister zwischen Islam, Magie und Identitätspolitik." Ökumenische Rundschau 71, no. 4 (2022): 535–48.


2022

Moral Economy in the Nazareth Baptist Church, South Africa

Magnus Echtler

Moral Economy in the Nazareth Baptist Church, South Africa

Isaiah Shembe founded the Nazareth Baptist Church (NBC) in 1910, and this new institution distinguished itself from mission Christianity not least through the markedly different moral economy. With the church headquarters at the outskirts of Durban (South Africa), the church catered to black Africans, dispossessed of their land and forced into the capitalist labor system. To them, Shembe preached a Protestant work ethic, while at the same time condemning involvement in city life and striving to acquire land and attain economic autonomy for his congregations. With female adherents running away from fathers and husbands, he started out as a 'thief of women', but soon gave religious support to the patriarchal authorities of chiefs, who granted the church land in native reserves in turn. Prohibiting members from joining labor unions, the church connected cities and mines with rural homelands and contributed to the stabilization of the migrant labor system. In addition, Shembe preached moral ethnicity, and hence partook in the creation of Zulu nationalism. The ambiguous moral economy of the NBC persisted during apartheid capitalism and post-apartheid neoliberalism. My essay focuses on preaching and the heterotopic character of the large gatherings of the NBC, and I will also connect church morals with the wider Zulu traditionalist milieu and, given the preoccupation of classic moral economy with riots and revolutions, conclude with some observations on the 2021 unrests in South Africa.


Echtler, Magnus. “Moral Economy in the Nazareth Baptist Church, South Africa.” Journal for the Study of Religion 35, no. 2 (2022): 1–25.

2022

Review Discussion: Religion, Politics, and the Law in Postwar Japan

Mark R. Mullins, Jolyon B. Thomas, and Matthew D. McMullan

Review Discussion: Religion, Politics, and the Law in Postwar Japan

This discussion will review two recent publications on religion, politics, and the law in Japan, specifically the postwar period. Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan, by Jolyon Thomas, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2019, and the second book we will be discussing is by Mark Mullins, Yasukuni Fundamentalism: Japanese Religions and the Politics of Restoration, which was published in the Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture book series along with the University of Hawai‘i Press in 2021.


Mullins, Mark R., Jolyon B. Thomas, and Matthew D. McMullan. “Review Discussion: Religion, Politics, and the Law in Postwar Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 49, no. 1 (2022): 115–46.

Download pdf
2022

Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand: Multiple Sources and Diverse Forms

Sally McAra, and Mark R. Mullins

Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand: Multiple Sources and Diverse Forms

This article presents a provisional survey of Buddhists and Buddhist organizations in Aotearoa/New Zealand, identifying their key characteristics in terms of national origin, ethnicity, and areas of geographical concentration. We draw on three decades of the New Zealand census (1991-2018) to analyze demographic data about those who identify as Buddhist, and information from the NZ Charities Register to identify general characteristics of the diverse range of Buddhist organizations in the country. Based on this demographic data, we identify three main types of Buddhist institutions: (1) centers/temples serving heritage or “migrant” communities from Asian countries with Buddhist heritage; (2) centers which we refer to as “Pākehā/Multi-ethnic” because they serve newer Buddhists (“converts”) who are primarily but not exclusively Pākehā (NZ European), and (3) “multi-ethnic” organizations that include varying combinations of heritage and non-heritage Buddhists. Within each of the three categories we see diverse organizational forms and streams of distinctive Buddhist traditions, including sectarian, ethnic, and hybrid forms, each of which have contributed to a diverse religious landscape in significant ways. Most Buddhist centers are in urban areas, with 70 percent in or near Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. The main Buddhist traditions are almost equally represented across these institutions with 35 percent identified as Mahayana, 32 percent as Theravada, and 35 percent as Vajrayana (and 0.7% as mixed). The number of Buddhists in New Zealand has increased over the past three decades from 12,705 to 52,779, and approximately 80 percent identify with at least one of the Asian ethnic groups. Buddhists constitute only 1.1 percent of the total population, with at least 134 centers of varying sizes across the country. However, Buddhism may be exerting a cultural influence beyond these numbers, as recent research identified Buddhists as the “most trusted” religious group in contemporary New Zealand. In presenting this preliminary survey, we aim to provide a base for more in-depth investigations.



McAra, Sally, and Mark R. Mullins. “Buddhism in Aotearoa New Zealand: Multiple Sources and Diverse Forms.” Journal of Global Buddhism 23, no. 2 (2022): 161–84.

Download pdf
2022

The Life and Death of a Heisei Religious Movement: What the Aum Shinrikyō Affair Revealed About Japanese Society

Mark R. Mullins

The Life and Death of a Heisei Religious Movement: What the Aum Shinrikyō Affair Revealed About Japanese Society

The Heisei period provides a convenient frame for thinking about the impact and significance of one new religious movement, Aum Shinrikyō, which was registered as a religious corporation in August 1989. Its official status was revoked just six months after it launched the 20 March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, and its conclusive end came with the conviction of founder Asahara Shōkō and six of his close followers and their execution in July 2018. Although it remained a small movement, its violence towards society contributed to a sense of social crisis and generated a significant political response that revealed something about the nature of Heisei Japan. The calls for moral and patriotic education, as well as legislation enacted by the political establishment (LDP), suggest that crisis moments prompt some to return to the reservoir of traditional values and seek to reassert them into public life and institutions.



Mullins, Mark R. “The Life and Death of a Heisei Religious Movement: What the Aum Shinrikyō Affair Revealed About Japanese Society.” In Japan in the Heisei Era (1989-2019): Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Noriko Murai, Jeff Kingston and Tina Burrett, 206–17. London: Routledge, 2022.

2022

Afterword: Paradox Laxity and Unwordy Indifference: Non-Religious Figurations Beyond Emancipatory Narratives and Declamatory Genres

Johannes Quack

Afterword: Paradox Laxity and Unwordy Indifference: Non-Religious Figurations Beyond Emancipatory Narratives and Declamatory Genres

The contributions in this rich volume are manifold. This afterword begins with an outline of how the volume both expands on and advances the study of non-religion. The volume does not only augment scholarly understanding of central questions within the interdisciplinary study of non-religion by illustrating and analysing the diversity of non-religion beyond the simple binary of the religious and the none. It also illuminates new avenues for exploring how sceptical publics are formed through the lenses of aesthetics and affects, emotions and embodiment, and materiality and media. This afterword then takes up the volume’s more implicit focus on silences and visibilities, normativities and normalisations and the implications that these subjects have for further research on sceptical publics. To that end it discusses the use of ‘emancipatory’ analytical vocabulary – awareness raising, silence breaking, coming out, reclaiming and self-empowerment – within the study of non-religion. To conclude, and drawing on Joel Lee and Dorothea Weltecke’s recent work, the afterword reflects on why and how we might seek to locate sceptical publics beyond organised atheism, secularist activism, other declamatory genres of self-representation and the respective public controversies or legal prosecutions. How do we approach non-religious figurations that are constituted by ‘logophobic’ and ‘unwordy’ ways of life? Which kinds of media and forms of publicity are at stake here?


Quack, Johannes. "Afterword: Paradox Laxity and Unwordy Indifference: Non-Religious Figurations Beyond Emancipatory Narratives and Declamatory Genres." In Global Sceptical Publics: From Non-Religious Print Media to ‘Digital Atheism', edited by Jacob Copeman, and Mascha Schulz, 339–52. London: UCL Press, 2022.

Download pdf
2022

Performing the Secular: Street Theatre and Songs as ‘Secular Media’ in Bangladesh and West Bengal

James Bradbury, and Mascha Schulz

Performing the Secular: Street Theatre and Songs as ‘Secular Media’ in Bangladesh and West Bengal

In this chapter, we explore how cultural forms – specifically theatre performances, but also related performative genres – function as articulations of the secular for our interlocutors. We analyse the specific kinds of secular imaginations that are produced through cultural work, as well as the ways in which such activism contributes to the fostering of secular and non-religious publics in the region. In our analysis, cultural activism is not only, nor necessarily, a vehicle for explicit secularist messages, nor is it a monolithic project that aims to produce a singular secularised public sphere. Instead, culture provides a medium through which secular conversations, self-cultivation and identification among a certain group of secularly oriented interlocutors can take place. Ultimately, we argue that cultural secularism should be understood in terms of the subjectivities, communities, genres and publics that become constituted, and recognised as secular per se, through such performances.


Bradbury, James, and Mascha Schulz. "Performing the Secular: Street Theatre and Songs as ‘Secular Media’ in Bangladesh and West Bengal." In Global Sceptical Publics: From Non-Religious Print Media to ‘Digital Atheism', ed. Jacob Copeman, and Mascha Schulz, 71-96. London: UCL Press, 2022.

Download pdf
2022

Introduction: Non-Religion, Atheism and Sceptical Publicity

Jacob Copeman, and Mascha Schulz

Introduction: Non-Religion, Atheism and Sceptical Publicity

This book seeks to further understanding of the remarkably diverse ways in which a variety of religious sceptics, doubters and atheists engage with different forms of media as means both of communication and of forming non-religious publics. Some varieties, such as books in English ranging from early scepticism (for example, those of Bertrand Russell) to the New Atheism2 literature, had a far-reaching influence, informing debates and subjectivities in diverse places. Other forms, such as the use of Bengali theatre for secularist projects, have remained highly idiosyncratic to specific contexts. The volume brings together scholars from different disciplines in order to initiate debates on media, materiality and non-religion. It thus contributes to the recently growing social science literature on humanism, atheism and other varieties of non-religion, but expands its thematic reach and theoretical concerns by extending prevailing insights from studies of non-religion to media contexts. How do changes in media forms affect modes of anti-atheist activism and vigilantism? How does non-religious publicity differ according to medium and locale? What can geographically dispersed non-religious literature and visual art, from theatre to video production, tell us about non-religious subjectivities, communities and activisms, past and present?


Copeman, Jacob, and Mascha Schulz. "Introduction: Non-Religion, Atheism and Sceptical Publicity." In Global Sceptical Publics: From Non-Religious Print Media to ‘Digital Atheism', ed. Jacob Copeman, and Mascha Schulz, 1-36. London: UCL Press, 2022.

Download pdf
2022

Tracing the Nationalisation of Millet in the Late Ottoman Period: A Conceptual History Approach

Markus Dressler

Tracing the Nationalisation of Millet in the Late Ottoman Period: A Conceptual History Approach

During its last century, the Ottoman Empire faced strong contestation of its political order, which had undergone radical changes that are generally discussed in relation to modernisation. Against this background, key social and political concepts in Ottoman Turkish shed old meanings and acquired new ones. This article examines the trajectory of the term millet in this period as a case study. Drawing on political and lexicographic texts from the Tanzimat era and afterwards, the article discusses the semantic shifts through which millet, traditionally closely related to din/religion, acquired connotations of a political community, not the least proto-national ones. This led to a polysemy that remained relatively stable until the end of the Ottoman era, when the political meaning of the term millet as “nation” gained dominance. This secularisation of the term reached its peak in the early Turkish republic, although the older, religious connotations of the term were never totally forgotten and are still evoked in conservative religious discourse.


Dressler, Markus. "Tracing the Nationalisation of Millet in the Late Ottoman Period: A Conceptual History Approach." Die Welt des Islams 62, no. 3-4 (2022): 360-88.

2022

Contesting Queer Secularity: The Spiritual and the Sexual after Secularization

Marian Burchardt

Contesting Queer Secularity: The Spiritual and the Sexual after Secularization

Queer and social science scholarship has amply demonstrated how contestations over sexual diversity in the public sphere are structured by antagonisms between heteronormative public religion and progressive politics, even as processes of secularization advance in most European societies. In this article, by contrast, I explore how the progressive decoupling of notions of national belonging from both religion and sexual identity has accompanied the proliferation of new subject positions around queer spirituality and religiosity. Engaging with theories of secularization and belonging, as well as Jasbir Puar’s notion of ‘queer secularity’, I examine emergent entanglements between queer emancipation, religion and sexual citizenship as they are taking shape through the biographical trajectories of queer subjects in Spain. The article argues that emancipation from queer secularity and access to these subject positions of queer spirituality are mediated through situated biographical trajectories. They depend on but also expedite the unmaking of antagonisms between queer secularity and heteronormative religion.


Burchardt, Marian. "Contesting Queer Secularity: The Spiritual and the Sexual after Secularization." New Diversities [Early View 2022, Part of forthcoming Special Issue ‘Theorizing Secularity, Religion and Sexuality in Postcolonial Europe’].

Download pdf
2022

Becoming Secular: Biographies of Disenchantment, Generational Dynamics, and why they matter

Marian Burchardt

Becoming Secular: Biographies of Disenchantment, Generational Dynamics, and why they matter

In many Western societies, support for policies concerning the secularization of the public sphere or the state often seems to be driven by secularized majority populations considered to be largely homogeneous. In this article, by contrast, I draw on the case of the Canadian province of Quebec to show that, as a fundamental element of conflicts over secularism, secularist activism emerges from particular generational dynamics, especially those of the so-called ‘baby boomers’. My main argument is that while the baby boomers’ collective experiences have shaped their secularist outlook, there are a variety of biographical trajectories and engagements with spirituality that the public image of this generation tends to hide. The article is based on biographical and ethnographic research carried out between 2012 and 2018.


Burchardt, Marian. "Becoming Secular: Biographies of Disenchantment, Generational Dynamics, and why they matter." Social Compass 69, no. 2 (2022): 223–40.

Download pdf
page 1 from 12 next »