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The work of the research group finds its expression in various publication formats. In addition to monographs, edited volumes and articles by individual members of the research group, we also make (preliminary) research results available for academic discourse in the form of working papers.

Furthermore, with the Companion to the Study of Secularity, the research group is pursuing a long-term, collaborative publication project that aims to make research on phenomena of the conceptual distinction and structural differentiation of "religion" accessible to a larger academic audience and thus to contribute to opening up a new field of research and facilitating interdisciplinary exchange.

Working papers as well as entries for the Companion to the Study of Secularity are reviewed by at least two peers from the research group prior to publication.

Latest Publications

Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz
The “White History”: Religion and Secular Rule in Buddhist Mongolia

nameWith the assertion of Buddhism as the dominant religion at the end of the 16th century, a new reflection on the relationship between the secular and the religious commenced among the Mongols. They adopted the Joint Twofold System of Governance formulated in Buddhist Tibet, and adapted it to the Mongolian cultural context. This system of governance is described in the work “The White History”, written in the late 16th century, with the epistemic distinctions between the religious and the secular discursively negotiated in the work. Although the impact of these distinctions on the social differentiations of Mongolian society during the Qing period (1644–1911) remains to be investigated, the “White History” nonetheless provides a valuable insight into pre-modern Mongolian notions of the distinction between the religious and the secular.
more Companion entries

Roberto Blancarte
#27: Populism, Religion, and Secularity in Latin America and Europe: A Comparative Perspective

#27: Populism, Religion, and Secularity in Latin America and Europe: A Comparative PerspectiveMuch has been written in the past few decades about populism that most scholars approaching the subject feel obliged to begin by justifying their writing of yet another text. In this paper, the situation is somewhat different: whilst our analytical gaze is cast upon populism (and fascism, as a precursor or closely related social phenomenon), this is only indirectly the case. Our primary focus is, instead, on the relationship that populism has with religion and secularity. Or, more precisely, the relationships of diverse populisms with different religiosities and various secularities. While the religious and the secular are mentioned in numerous studies about populism, these topics have rarely been adequately elaborated. Even when they are discussed, they are treated only in a marginal way. The purpose of this work is, therefore, to highlight the complex and multi-faceted way that populisms in Europe and Latin America have related to religion and religiosity. A second, parallel objective of this work is to reflect on the particular relationships populism establishes with different understandings of the secular, specifically within the political sphere, i.e. ‘political secularity.’ Following the differentiation paradigm, another term one might see used for this is ‘laicity’ (laïcité in French, laicidad in Spanish). I understand this to refer specifically to the secularisation of the state and the areas of society which come under its control.
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Amitav Acharya, Daniel A. Bell, Rajeev Bhargava, and Yan Xuetong, eds.
Bridging Two Worlds

Comparing Classical Political Thought and Statecraft in India and China

Bridging Two Worlds

The rise of China and India could be the most important political development of the twenty-first century. What will the foreign policies of China and India look like in the future? What should they look like? And what can each country learn from the other? Bridging Two Worlds gathers a coterie of experts in the field, analyzing profound political thinkers from these ancient regions whose theories of interstate relations set the terms for the debates today. This volume is the first work of its kind and is essential reading for anyone interested in the growth of China and India and what it means for the rest of the world.

Acharya, Amitav, Daniel A. Bell, Rajeev Bhargava, and Yan Xuetong, eds. Bridging Two Worlds: Comparing Classical Political Thought and Statecraft in India and China. California: Universtiy of California Press, 2023.

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Rajeev Bhargava
Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony

Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony

This essay explores the Asokan politico-moral ethic, called Dhamma, and the role of moral and intellectual leadership in it both within the king’s own territory and beyond it. It shows that one of the central aspirations of Asoka’s Dhamma is a form of universalism, to shape the global order by sending emissaries all over the world. At appropriate junctures, it shows similarities of Asoka’s views to Xunzi’s as enunciated and compared by Yan Xuetong in this volume with Kautilya’s political vision. Kautilya provides somewhat of a contrast to Xunzi, whereas Asoka and Xunzi share many similarities. A comparison between Xunzi and Asoka is equally interesting, perhaps even more appropriate. At the core of Asoka’s edicts lies his conception of Dhamma, a set of precepts about how to lead a good individual and collective life. Dhamma is generally understood in India’s scholarly tradition to mean “law.” But in a recent essay, Patrick Olivelle has proposed that Dhamma be reconceived as civic religion, a term revived by Robert Bellah, after Rousseau first coined it in his classic work, The Social Contract.

Bhargava, Rajeev. "Ashoka’s Dhamma as a Project of Expansive Moral Hegemony." In Bridging Two Worlds, ed. Amitav Acharya, Daniel A. Bell, Rajeev Bhargava, and Yan Xuetong. California: University of California Press, 2023.

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