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Johannes Duschka

Research Coordinator

+49-341-97 37 738

The Formation of a Postcolonial Theory of Religion and the Secular. The Works of Talal Asad

In the programmatic articles of the Multiple Secularities project the name of Talal Asad is largely invoked to represent a certain strand of critical approaches informed by postcolonial theory. His fundamental importance for contemporary studies related to the secular since the publication of his Formations of the Secular is recognized and acknowledged beyond the context of the Multiple Secularities project across the field. Asad’s scholarly influence seems to extend well beyond the study of the secular to the study of religion and postcolonial theory in general and of Islam more specifically.

Despite the broad and growing reception of and engagement with Asad’s works, no historical systematic study of the emergence of his critical thinking in its contexts has been published yet. I therefore propose a conceptual study of Talal Asad’s works, following the trajectory of its developmentfrom his first publications in the 1960s to the volumes of collected essays on the colonial encounter, religion and the secular in the early 1990s and 2000s. The publications of his major works Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (1973), Genealogies of Religion (1993) and Formations of the Secular (2003) will therefore serve as reference points for a first preliminary periodization, also largely corresponding with the fields of study identified above. The goal and scope of the project is not an exhaustive intellectual biography, but foremost a systematic and critical reflection on the central ideas of an influential critical thinker as they emerge. Nonetheless, it will to some extent also contribute to the historicisation of the convoluted and still growing field of postcolonial theory.


2021 - present

Research Coordinator, HCAS „Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities”, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2020 - present

Junior Researcher, HCAS „Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities”, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2016 - 2020

Administrative Coordinator, HCAS “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities”, Leipzig University


Lecturer, Institute for the Study of Culture, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2014 - 2016

Project coordinator, Exploring Legal Cultures, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2014 - 2015

Felix Posen Doctoral Fellowship, Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), Jerusalem (IL)

2013 - 2016

PhD candidate, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Göttingen (GER)

2013 - 2014

Staff member, communication and public relations department, Fraunhofer MOEZ, Leipzig (GER)

2012 - 2013

Staff member, conference management, Hochschuldidaktisches Zentrum Sachsen, Leipzig (GER)

2012 - 2016

Staff member, Wilhelm-Ostwald-Museum, Großbothen (GER)


Magister Artium, Cultural Studies and Political Science, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

Relevant Publications