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Public lecture and discussion with Donovan Schaefer (University of Pennsylvania) on "Feeling Faithless: Making the Affective Turn in Secularism Studies"

24 February 2021
6:15 p.m.

via Zoom

Comment: Monique Scheer (University Tübingen)

Presentation: Nur Yasemin Ural (KFG "Multiple Secularities")

It’s easier than ever to talk about the ways that religion is more than just what’s in our heads. Scholars working on embodiment, ritual, and emotion have diagrammed the paths by which religion is felt, experienced, and lived—rather than merely believed. But could we say the same of the secular? The standard definition of the secular associates it with an absence of feeling, sometimes under the heading of "disenchantment".

This talk explores the ways that the category of the secular can be understood from the perspective of affect. Examining the history of the Sheldonian Theatre at the University of Oxford, this talk suggests not only that what Talal Asad calls "formations of the secular" are felt, but that starting with affect allows us to reframe and revisit the secular/religious binary in productive ways.

Donovan Schaefer is Assistant Professor at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on the role of embodiment and emotion in religion and secularisms. Following the publication of his first book "Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power", his current project explores the intersection between affect theory, science, and critical approaches to the secular.

Monique Scheer is Professor of Historical and Cultural Anthropology at University Tübingen. In her teaching and research, she brings together perspectives from the history and anthropology of emotions with issues around belief and conviction, religious and secular, and how they play out in social settings characterized by cultural and religious pluralism.

Nur Yasemin Ural, PhD, is a sociologist and a Senior Researcher at the KFG "Multiple Secularities" with her current research project on "Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression: Distinguishing Between Religious and Secular Injury". Her areas of interest include Islam in Europe, Anthropology of the Secular, Affect and Emotions as well as Historical Sociology.

This lecture is organized by the KFG in cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin and its CRC "Affective Societies".

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