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Secularities - Patterns of Distinction, Paths of Differentiation

Conference of the Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe (KFG)

“Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities”
4–6 October 2018
Leipzig University, Paulinum and Felix Klein Lecture Hall

Wherever religion is on the agenda, its boundaries are present as well. Relations as well as separations are at stake, negotiations as well as conflicts arise: people start defining boundaries, making claims and sanctioning the reasonable and unreasonable, the legitimate and illegitimate. We assume that we can better explain differences in the vehemence and structure of such boundary demarcations if we take a closer look at the regionally diverging historical experiences.

Thus, the conference aims to discuss the variety of symbolic and institutional measures that distinguish between the religious and the non-religious (and at the same time relate the two to each other) in modern as well as in pre-modern societies, and to analyse the different historical and cultural conditions for the multiplicity of ‘secularities’, their similarities and differences. This implies investigating the pre-modern social and epistemic structures that may have conditioned the path-dependent processes in which ‘Western’ modes of differentiating and distinguishing were appropriated under the global condition. Accordingly, we are particularly interested in boundary demarcations in regions outside the so-called ‘modern West’.

We will discuss papers that explore forms of distinction and arrangements of differentiation between social spheres, practices, interpretive frameworks, institutions and discourses in different eras and regions. We consciously abstain from the term ‘secularism’ in order to avoid its strong normative underpinning and the related debates. Instead, we start from a heuristic notion of ‘secularity’ to address distinctions and forms of differentiation between religion and its other.

Conference Programme

Thursday, 4 October

17:00- 18:00

Welcome and Opening Session

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Christoph Kleine (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

room: Felix Klein Lecture Hall

18:30 - 20.00

Opening Keynote

José Casanova (Georgetown University)

Early Modern Jesuit Intercultural Encounters and the Globalization of Secularities

room: Paulinum

Friday, 5 October

Section 1: Emic classification systems and practices of differentiation

room: P 701

This section extends the question of distinctions and differentiations between the religious and the non-religious to non-Western regions and pre-modern periods, exploring their similarities and differences in comparison to modern, Western concepts of secularity without presupposing their ‘sameness’.

Thus, we explore emic systems of classification and practices of differentiation that developed in different regions before the encounter with the West, which could have served as ‘conceptual resources’ (Bhargava) for forms of secularity and related practices in different regions and cultures.

09:30 - 11:00

Pre-Modern Knowledge Systems and Taxonomies (in Asia)

Max Deeg (Cardiff University)

Inside and Beyond the World: Buddhist laukika/lokottara in Relation to Secular/Religious

Christoph Kleine (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Secularity – a special-purpose taxonomy? Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias, and the Reconstruction of Knowledge Systems in pre-modern Japan

Hubert Seiwert (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Secularisation in Early Confucianism?

Discussant: Christian Meyer (FU Berlin)

11:30 - 13:00

A Grammar of Soft Distinctions in Early Modern Islamic Societies, 14th-17th centuries

Neguin Yavari (KFG "Multiple Secularities")
Toward an adab of Politics in Sixteenth Century Iran

Alexandre Papas (EHESS Paris)
Adab and siyasa in a Sufi mirror for princes by Ahmad Kasani (d. 1542)

Luca Patrizi (Sorbonne, Paris IV)
The Minstrel and the Cup-bearer: The adab of a Sufi majlis as an Image of the adab of a Courtly Banquet,14th-17th c.

Armando Salvatore (McGill University)
Islamicate History and Social Theory: A Marriage of Convenience?

14:30 - 16:00

Appropriation of Western Concepts of Religion in East Asia

Andreea Barbu (University of Bucharest)
The image of the Western secularization model in Meiji Japan: adoption and reinterpretation

Kyuhoon Cho (Seoul National University Asia Center)
Secular State and the Formation of Religion in a Globalized Korea

Christian Meyer (FU Berlin)

Religious vs secular or religion among religions? Negotiating concepts of religion and the secular in Late Imperial and early Republican China (1890s-1920s)

Discussant: Mark Mullins (University of Auckland)

16:30 - 18:00

Religion and medicine in Asian cultures and societies

Katrin Killinger (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

The divine principle in early Āyurveda. The re-interpretation of religious vocabulary in the Compendium of Caraka (200 BC – 400 AD)

Laurent Mignon (Oxford University)

Islamising or De-Islamising Healing: The Case of Anatolian Medicine

Katja Triplett (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Religion and Medicine in Translation: Instances from Pre-modern Japan

Discussant: Silke Gülker (Leipzig University)

Section 2: Processes of boundary demarcation, paths of development, and genealogies

room: Felix Klein Lecture Hall

This section explores the history and genealogy of secularity, i.e. the boundary demarcation between religion and non-religion in non-Western societies, especially in (South-) East Asia and Islamicate societies.

Which genealogies of distinctions and differentiation do we find there? Can we identify paths that emerged from earlier forms of boundary demarcation and their interaction with Western concepts and institutions? Can we identify path dependencies in the sense of self-reproducing structures of differentiation and epistemes of distinction in certain regions?

9:30 - 11:00

Crossing religious and secular boundaries in South-east Asia

Madlen Krüger (University of Münster)
Religio-political discourses about the activism of Buddhist monks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

Patrice Ladwig (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity Göttingen)
From revolutionary Buddhism to the preservation of tradition. Genealogies of the secular and the changing position of Buddhism in the political sphere in Laos

Iselin Frydenlund (Norwegian School of Theology)

‘Blasphemy!’: Defending Buddhism through secular law in Myanmar

Discussant: Marian Burchardt (Leipzig University)

11:30 - 13:00

Remaking Religious-Secular Boundaries in Asia: A View from the Ground

Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore)

Refuting Sacred/Secular Boundaries: Insights from Hindu domains in Singapore and Malaysia

Rupa Viswanath (Göttingen University)
The Duty to Feed: Secularity, Pastoral Power and Intraracial Politics among the Indian Poor in Urban Malaysia

Mascha Schulz (Zurich University)

Chair: Marian Burchardt (Leipzig University)
Discussant: Sam Nelson (McGill University)

16:30 - 18:00

Historicizing Secularity: Genealogy and Conceptual History

Bjorn Ola Tafjord (University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway)

How can something resembling secularity be found around a genealogy of indigenous religion in Talamanca?

Reinhard Schulze (University of Bern)

Islam and the Global History of Secularity

Florian Zemmin (University of Bern)

The Potential of Conceptual History for Tracing Islamic Conceptions of Secularity

Discussant: Markus Dreßler (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Section 3: Reference problems and guiding ideas of secularity

room: P 801

The introduction and reproduction of distinctions and differentiations between religion and other societal spheres (e.g. the separation of religion and politics, religion and science or education, etc.) is not merely the imposition of a philosophical or ideological programme, but relates to societal problems as their reference problems. This links our quest to identify forms of distinction and differentiation to the analysis of societal struggles, contestations, and power relations.

Reference problems have been described for modern constellations, but have not been explored to the same extent for pre-modern or early modern periods. Which reference problems might we discover here? On the basis of which guiding ideas (Leitideen) has the institutionalisation of religious/non-religious differentiation been promoted?

9:30 - 11:00

Indonesian Secularity and the Resurgence of Public Religion in comparative perspective

Saskia Schäfer (FU Berlin)
Reshuffling Religious Authority, Islam, and the State: The Council of Indonesian Islamic Scholars in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia

Mirjam Künkler (KFG "Multiple Secularities")
Legal Paths of Differentiation since Decolonization: from Constitutional Secularism to Communitarian Legal Pluralism

Discussant: Jamal Malik (University of Erfurt)

11:30 - 13:00

Negotiating Religion: Orthodoxy, Scientific Atheism and De-Secularisation in Russia

Sebastian Rimestadt (Erfurt University)
Russian Orthodox concepts of secularity

Johannes Gleixner (Collegium Carolinum Prague)

The consequences of tearing down the boundary and the difficulties of re-erecting them – “Soviet secularism” in the 1920ies between modernization and politicized religion

Tobias Köllner (Witten/Herdecke University)

On 'Entangled Authorities': Orthodox Religion, Politics and Secularity in contemporary Russia

Discussant: Wolfgang Höpken (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

14:30 - 16:00

Contestations on Indian secularism – Is there a guiding idea of secularity in India?

Rinku Lamba (Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi)

Differentiation, Integration and Secularity: An Indian Perspective

Sushmita Nath
Jawaharlal Nehru and the Question of Indian Secularity

Nadja-Christina Schneider (Humboldt University Berlin)

Notions of Secularity in India: Ongoing Debates, Current Contestations

Discussant: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

16:30 - 18:00

The acquisition of secularist positions by religious actors in India

Roopesh Ob (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)
Secularity and Hindu temples in Kerala; Conflicts and transformation of religious institution

Santosh (IIT Madras)
Boundary Demarcation and Coalescence between the Religious and the Secular: The Case of a 'Secular' Muslim Organisation in India

Discussant: Ursula Rao (Leipzig University)

Section 4: Types of cultural interaction and acquisition, transfer and entanglement

room: P 901

The introduction of distinctions and differentiations between religion and non-religion is not simply a one-sided process of imposition, infiltration or diffusion of Western concepts. Even if power relations are unequal, a process of cultural interaction, entanglement, transfer and acquisition must be taken into account.

Consequently, this section explores the forms in which distinctions and differentiations have been transferred and adopted by non-Western societies. Which types of cultural interaction can be identified? What kinds of entanglements exist between different cultural agents and products?

9:30 - 11:00

Questioning Differentiation in Iran: Ontological Prospects

Nahid Mozaffari (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Did Tajaddod (Modernity) include the Secular?  Debates in Early 20th Century Iran

Ebrahim Towfigh

Challenging Ontology: Reproaching Modernist Formation of Knowledge System in Iran

Sana Chavoshian (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Differentiation and Temporality: Muslim Pious Women in Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery

Discussant: Georg Stauth (Mainz University)

11:30 - 13:00

Exploring Secularities: A Comparative Perspective on Religion, Law and the State in India

Suchandra Gosh (IIT Kanpur)
Adjudication of ‘Personal’ Law: An Ethnography of Judicial Reasoning in Sharia and Civil Courts of Kanpur

Anindita Chakrabarti (IIT Kanpur)
Public Interest Litigation, Religion and the Question of Secularity in Contemporary India

Deepak Mehta (Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, Dehli)
The Ayodhya Dispute: Law, Haunting and the Jural Deity

Discussant: Nadja-Christina Schneider (Humboldt University Berlin)

14:30 - 16:00

Historicizing Secularity in the Arab-Ottoman World

Mohammad Magout (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Discourses on religion in the early Arabic press in Beirut

Peter Hill (Oxford University)

Reason and religion in Ottoman Syria: the conversions of Mikha'il Mishaqa (1800-1888)

Discussant: Nader Sohrabi (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

16:30 - 18:00

Variety of Secularity in China and Vietnam

Pascal Bourdeaux (EPHE - PSL, Paris)
Hoa Hao Buddhism and worldliness in 20th century Vietnam : an historical definition of «nhập thế»

André Laliberté (University of Ottawa)
‘Merit Societies’ and social service provision in Chinese societies: a variety of approaches to multiple secularities

Thomas David DuBois (Fudan University)
“Be a civilized citizen!” Corporate social responsibility and the new Chinese secular

Discussant: Hubert Seiwert (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Saturday, 6 October


Working Groups

Based on the empirical examples discussed in Friday’s panel presentations, the working groups attempt to draw first systematic conclusions with regard to the overarching theoretical questions of the four conference sections.

The aim is to critically discuss to what degree the concept of Multiple Secularities and its focus on distinctions and differentiations is applicable to different regional and/or historical developments, to see where its heuristic potential lies, but also to identify the limits of its application.

Working Group 1: Emic classification systems and differentiation practices

Introduction and Chair: Christoph Kleine (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

room: P 701

Working Group 2: Paths of development, genealogies, transfer and entanglement

Introduction and Chair: Markus Dreßler (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

room: Felix Klein Lecture Hall

Working Group 3: Reference Problems and Guiding Ideas of Secularity

Introduction and Chair: Marian Burchardt (Leipzig University)

room: P 801

Working Group 4: Future Prospects. Secularities in the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Russia

Introduction and Chair: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

Input: Robert Blancarte (El Colegia de Mexico) and Todd Weir (University of Groningen)

room: P 901

13:00 - 14:30

Closing Session