Religion and Secularity I
The dominant modern discourse on religion is divisive in the sense that it splits the world into two opposing spheres: ‘religion’ and ‘the secular’. It claims that ‘secularity’ accords with ‘natural reason’ and that whatever is categorized as ‘religion’ is subordinate to ‘the secular’. This discourse prevents ‘religion’ from being taken seriously in society.
Historically, the development of this binary has been closely associated with the hegemony of colonial powers. It authorizes and naturalizes the ostensibly ‘secular’ value orientation of nation-states. It has now become a globalized classification scheme. At the same time, the boundary between ‘religion’ and ‘the secular’ is highly ambiguous, if not totally collapsing. This session invites papers that critically examine this discourse, particularly the classificatory practices that apply the opposition of ‘religion’ to ‘the secular’ within specific sociological contexts. How is ‘the secular’ establishing and maintaining its self-image as non-religion? What are the norms and imperatives which construct and govern the religion-secular distinction? How has it been defined, negotiated, and contested in a specific social context? Why do certain groups want to be recognized as ‘religion,’ while others refuse to be categorized as such? This session discusses these questions and welcomes all papers on religion and secularity.