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Companion to the Study of Secularity

The Companion to the Study of Secularity is a publication that is projected to grow over time. It consists of short articles in encyclopaedic form and style, which detail the specific concepts and peculiarities of secularity in the regions and eras our members are specialised in. In contrast to journal articles or articles in our Working Paper Series, the Companion’s entries are not intended to initiate detailed intradisciplinary discussion or to present new findings from research. Instead, they should provide the wider academic community with an insight into the concept of multiple secularities and thus foster transdisciplinary exchange.

The intent is that scholars interested in the concept of multiple secularities, who are not themselves specialists in particular (historical) regions, should be able to gain an insight into both the different regions where formations of secularity can be observed, and the main notions and concepts that the KFG’s members refer to. Over time, the Companion should grow to encompass all epochs and areas that have been worked on within the scope of the KFG. For as long as the KFG continues to exist, the Companion will be published and further expanded on the KFG’s website. Towards the end of the Multiple Secularities project, all entries will be systematised and edited in order to transform the Companion into a completed open access publication.

Japan before 1800

Christoph Kleine

As in most premodern societies, prior to the accelerated modernisation of Japan under Western influence in the 19th century, concepts of societal differentiation were primarily focused on the relationship between religious and political institutions. It is important to note, however, that the conceptual distinctions found in discursive statements do not necessarily reflect or represent the actual state of societal differentiation. In many cases, these concepts were, in all likelihood, normative ideals that were only partly realised. Having said this, a very brief and generalising narrative of the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘the secular’ would run as follows.

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Religion and Medicine in Japan

Katja Triplett

This article provides an historical overview of the development of the relationship between religion and medicine in Japan from the Asuka period (538-710), when Buddhism was officially introduced, to the 20th century. It sheds light, among other things, on the impact of Chinese medicine as well as European influences on the medical system in Japan and traces the change in the relationship between two distinct but not necessarily separate spheres.

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Religionization and Secularity

Markus Dreßler

This entry discusses four concepts: religionization, religio-secularization, religio-secularism, and religion-making. They are proposed as heuristic devices for the analysis of the processes through which social structures, practices, and discourses come to be understood as ‘religious’ or ‘religion.’ Since all of these concepts relate to the demarcation of boundaries between religious and non-religious domains, they are devices for analyzing the formation and maintenance of secularities.

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‘Religion’ in Thailand in the 19th Century

Ruth Streicher, Adrian Hermann

The 19th century can be considered central to processes of ‘religion-making’ in Siam (today’s Thailand): over the course of the century, a religio-secular episteme emerged that included the establishment of the traditional Buddhist term sasana as the standard translation of ‘religion’ on the basis of modern “distinctions of religion”, and relegated certain elements of the Buddhist tradition to other societal spheres now seen as distinct from sasana/religion. This process enabled the politicisation and regulation of ‘religion(s)’ in the context of the newly emerging Thai state towards the end of the ‘long 19th century.’

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