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Blackwell Manifestos #37: Why Politics Can't Be Freed from Religion. Ivan Strenskiby Ivan Strenski
Synopses & Reviews
Religion. Power. Politics. Ideas and institutions that have been laden with a baggage of meanings picked up through the course of history – and which, unfairly or not, are often defined by these historic and social contexts. In this thought-provoking book, Ivan Strenski unpacks the central concepts and influences of religion, politics, and power, and provides a new theoretical framework to think about what they mean in today’s society. In addition to offering radical critiques of the religious and political perspectives of thinkers such as Talal Asad and Michel Foucault, Strenski moves beyond the theory in applying his intellectual framework to a variety of real-world issues, including insights into suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Erudite and engaging, Why Politics Can't be Freed From Religion provides a timely and highly original contribution to our understanding of these concepts. It tries to dislodge readers from conventional thinking about politics and religion, and in doing so, helps make sense of the complexities of our twenty-first-century world.
Why Politics Can't be Freed From Religion is an original, erudite, and timely new book from Ivan Strenski. Itinterrogates the central ideas and contexts behind religion, politics, and power, proposing an alternative way in which we should think about these issues in the twenty-first century.
Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous books, including: Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (2002); Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (2003); The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (2006); Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to Theories of Religion and Thinking About Religion: A Reader (both Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).
About the Author
"The book is written in an accessible and engaging style, and readers who are new to the field of religion and politics will find it readable and helpful". (Religion, September 2010)
Table of Contents
1. When God Plays Politics: Radical Interrogations of Religion, Power, and Politics
2. Interrogating ‘Religion’
1. Religion Trouble
2. ‘Seeing’ Religion: Six Common Clichés
3. Gagging at the Feast of Two Unexamined Assumptions: Religion, All Good or All Bad
4. The Religion-Is-No-Good Cliché
5. The Second Set of Two Clichés: Religion Is Belief and Belief in God
6. ‘Religion’s’ Private Parts
7. Powerless in Paradise
8. Two Ways to Eliminate ‘Religion’
9. Is Religion Our Phlogiston? An Historical Test Case
10. Talal Asad’s ‘Religion’ Trouble
11. The Trick of Defining ‘Religion’
12. Owning ‘Religion’
13. How Durkheim Took ‘Ownership’ of ‘Religion’
14. Religion and Its Despisers
3. Interrogating ‘Power’
1. Confronting the Paradox of ‘Power’
2. How ‘Power’ Plays Havoc with Thinking about "Institutional Violence"
3. Whom Should We Blame? ‘History’ on Trial
4. History’s Helper: We Should Also Blame Foucault
5. Problematizing Power in South Africa
6. Foucault versus Foucault
7. Thinking about Power as Auctoritas and Hierarchy
8. What More Is to Be Done? Thinking about Power as Auctoritas and Social Force
4. Interrogating ‘Politics’
1. Defining ‘Politics’
2. Where There Is No Politics: Despotism and Totalitarianism
3. Autonomous Politics
4. Where Our ‘Politics’ Makes No Sense
5. Politics, the Construct
6. Two Pernicious Views of ‘Politics’
7. History Lessons for Professor Morgenthau
8. What Constitutionalism Owes the Council of Constance
9. The Emergence of the Political . . . from the Religious
10. Machiavelli and Luther: Critical Contributions to the Autonomy of Politics
11. Foucault’s Fault II: ‘Everything Is Political’
12. The Hidden Fascism of Thinking that Everything Is Political
13. Public and Private: No Absolute Line of Demarcation
14. Resisting the Panopticon
15. Afterword: The Autonomy of ‘Politics’ and the Nation-State
5. Testing Interrogations of ‘Religion,’ ‘Power,’ and ‘Politics’: Human Bombers and the Authority of Sacrifice in the Middle East
1. Is ‘Suicide’ Bombing Religious?
2. Making Too Much of Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: ‘Islamofascism’
3. Dying to Make Too Little of Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: Robert A. Pape
4. No Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: Talal Asad
5. How Religion Helps Explain Human Bombing
6. Human Bombing Is "Catastrophe," but also a "Triumph" of "Secular Immortality"
7. Human Bombing = Jihad + Sacrifice
8. Sacrifice or Suicide?
9. But Do Any Muslims Really Think Human Bombers Are ‘Sacrifices’?
10. Sacrifice Makes Authority
11. How and Why Sacrifice Works: The Authority of Sacralization
12. How and Why Sacrifice Works: No Free Gifts
13. Concluding Remarks
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