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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

André Laliberté
Multiple Secularities in Culturally Chinese Societies

nameDespite extensive academic discussion about de-centring the concept of secularity, very few academics have looked at contemporary China. This should not be surprising as the concept of ‘secularity’, and its cognates ‘secular’, ‘secularisation’, and ‘secularism’ rarely translate well into Chinese. This article explores whether and how Wohlrab-Sahr and Burchardt’s conceptual framework for understanding secularity beyond the West and beyond modernity can be applied to China. This article looks into the lessons we can derive from China’s own recent history of relations between religious and non-religious social spheres to enrich our understanding of secularity beyond the West, and, at the same time, contribute to the de-othering of China and the critique of positive orientalism. A major argument made in this essay is that the particular features of secularity in China are not the inevitable result of a cultural configuration determining institutional arrangements between religion and the spheres of the secular. Although the language and terminology of these arrangements may be culturally specific and intelligible only within the sinosphere, i.e. to people who can understand written Chinese, this does not pre-ordain the creation of a specific form of secular state such as the current mode of regulation of religion enforced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The case of Taiwan, another important centre within the sinosphere where secularity differs from that seen in China, illustrates the vast repertoire of institutional arrangements possible in Chinese societies, and highlights the importance of agency in shaping institutions.
more Companion entries

Gudrun Krämer
#23: Religion, Culture, and the Secular: The Case of Islam

#23: Religion, Culture, and the Secular: The Case of IslamWhy jump into a sea, where everything is seemingly fleeting, floating, and fluid? There is not a single concept that offers solid ground to stand on: ‘religion’ is problematic, ‘culture’ elusive, ‘secularity’ contested, and ‘Islam’ one big question mark. ‘Identity’, to name that which looms so large in modern contexts, fares no better. Yet jump we must if we are to do more than critique conceptualisations that we consider flawed, and instead provide what is expected of academics: critical reflection that does justice to the subject at hand, while at the same time speaking to wider intellectual, moral, and political concerns. This paper contributes to the debate on multiple secularities by discussing conceptualisations of religion and culture and their relevance to articulations of secularity ‘in Islam’. Written from the perspective of historically grounded Islamic studies, with a focus on the period up to 1500, this paper nonetheless addresses current concerns, for while the secular and hints at secularity can be identified in pre-modern Muslim majority contexts, they only emerged as themes of theoretically informed debate in the modern period.
more Working Papers

Haraldur Hreinsson
Force of Words

A Cultural History of Christianity and Politics in Medieval Iceland (11th- 13th Centuries)

Force of Words

In this book, Haraldur Hreinsson examines the social and political significance of the Christian religion as the Roman Church was taking hold in medieval Iceland in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. By way of diverse sources, primarily hagiography and sermons but also material sources, the author shows how Christian religious ideas came into play in the often tumultuous political landscape of the time. The study illuminates how the Church, which was gathering strength across entire Europe, established itself through the dissemination of religious vernacular discourse at the northernmost borders of its dominion.

Hreinsson, Haraldur. Force of Words: A Cultural History of Christianity and Politics in Medieval Iceland (11th-13th Centuries). Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2021.

more books

Rinku Lamba
Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience

Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience

A lot of discussion about the place of religion in the public-political sphere has been generated by Jürgen Habermas’s introduction of the term “postsecular.” But, according to Charles Taylor, even the new openness to religion suggested by a postsecular perspective may not provide enough resources for enabling an appropriate understanding of secularism that is free from what he calls a fi xation with religion. For Taylor, it is a mistake to view secularism as a doctrine in which the state is pitted against religion. In place of the mistaken view, Taylor recommends interpreting secularity as something that requires the state to be neutral among all beliefs and not just religion-related ones. He says, “We think that secularism (or laicite) has to do with the relation of the state and religion; whereas in fact it has to do with the (correct) response of the democratic state to diversity”. While elaborating the problems with understandings of secularism that fi xate on religion, Taylor notes how the special concern with religion as the main problem relates back to Western history. For example, in France “the notion stuck that laïcité was all about controlling and managing religion”.

Lamba, Rinku. “Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience.” In Religion in the Era of Postsecularism. Edited by Uchenna Okeja, 123–47. London: Routledge, 2020.

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