Although I have not had a chance to read any yet, I have just downloaded ten articles from the ISSSC stream on Scribd. I don’t much like Scribd, and I cannot comment on the quality of the articles, but they are written by some excellent folk including Frank Pasquale, Barry Kosmin and Ryan Cragun, so if their usual standard is anything to go by I should have something interesting for you in a few weeks…
The Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, Santa Barbara
Rethinking Secularism – A Seminar Discussion
Friday, November 18, 2011 – 12:00 noon, Orfalea Center seminar room – 1005 Robertson Gym
Craig Calhoun, President, Social Science Research Council, and Prof of Sociology, NYU
Jonathan Van Antwerpen, Editor-in-Chief, The Immanent Frame, SSRC online magazine
Mark Juergensmeyer, Director, Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies
Benjamin (Jerry) Cohen, UCSB Political Science
Wade Clark Roof, UCSB Religious Studies
Giles Gunn, UCSB Global & International Studies
The speakers will discuss the background and content of the multi-year project of the Social Science Research Council on the crisis of secularism that resulted in their recently published, co-edited volume Rethinking Secularism (2011 Oxford UP). The project (and the volume) involved an interdisciplinary group of leading theorists and scholars, including the philosopher Charles Taylor, the literary theorist Talal Asad, the political scientist Peter Katzenstein, the sociologist Jose Casanova, and many more. The project focused on the central issues of how ”the secular” emerged historically, how it is now constituted and understood in different ways around the global, and how it has presented an analytic challenge for the social sciences, the humanities, and international affairs.
Now that things are finally starting to get done – conference papers and abstracts submitted, book editing entering a new phase, PhD applications underway, book reviews in progress, house moved, US trip nearly over, distinction achieved in MSc by Research – it is time to start going through the 160 emails in my inbox which are largely interesting articles to disseminate and comment on through my blog.
Today’s offerings are a couple of PDF’s… the first quite short… the second very long. The first is an Events Report from the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network on Jonathan Lanman’s lecture earlier this year entitled ‘Atheism Explained‘, where Katie Aston engages with Lanman’s innovative cognitive anthropological approach.
The second is one that I cannot hope to read in the near future, but which looks thoroughly stimulating at the same time. If you have the time to read Akeel Bilgrami’s 36-page ‘Secularism: Its Content and Context‘ then I suggest you do. The abstract is as follows:
This paper addresses two sets of questions. First, questions about the meaning of secularism and second questions about its justification and implementation. It is argued that Charles Taylor‘s recent efforts to redefine secularism for a time when we have gone ‘beyond toleration’ to multiculturalism in liberal politics, are based on plausible (and laudable) political considerations that affect the question of justification and implementation, but leave unaffected the question of the meaning and content of secularism. An alternative conceptualization of secularism is offered, from the one he proposes, while also addressing his deep and understandable concerns about the politics of secularism for our time. In the characterization of secularism offered, it turns out that secularism has its point and meaning, not in some decontextualized philosophical argument, but only in contexts that owe to specific historical trajectories, with specific political goals to be met.
Contributors include: R. Scott Appleby, Talal Asad, Rajeev Bhargava, Craig Calhoun, José Casanova, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Mark Juergensmeyer, Peter Katzenstein, Cecelia Lynch, Richard Madsen, Alfred C. Stepan, Charles Taylor, and Peter van der Veer.
“Much is being written about religion and secularism, but, from the very definition of the terms on down, there is little agreement. This books brings us not consensus but clarity about what the issues are and how the major schools of thought can be understood. It is an important step in the right direction.”
—Robert N. Bellah
“This volume brings together a variety of analytical perspectives on secularism, staging an important intervention into multiple disciplines on a topic that is both timely and urgent. Rethinking Secularism has the virtue of orienting newcomers to the stakes of the current debate while challenging others to push beyond their assumptions and received frames of reference. This is an important addition to the field of secular studies.”
The Immanent Frame is a collective blog publishing interdisciplinary perspectives on secularism, religion, and the public sphere, and a production of the Social Science Research Council.
The Social Science Research Council is an independent, nonprofit international organization founded in 1923. It nurtures new generations of social scientists, fosters innovative research, and brings necessary knowledge to bear on important public issues.
It’s great to see research on Nonreligion finally getting out there into the mainstream. What isn’t great is that all the links in this post go to the ISSSR – and little reference is made to the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN) who are equal partners in this.
I could also comment on how secularism, nonreligion, atheism etc are not the same thing and should not be treated as such… but that would take too long and it is a Sunday morning!
via CNN Belief Blog