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The Veil and Muslim Women in France

Religious and Political Aspects

Aref Abu-Rabia

The right of Muslim schoolgirls in France to wear the veil (hijab) raises questions concerning the meaning of the veil for Muslim women. The debate about Muslim dress codes and whether Islam belongs in Europe has become a critical issue. The debate that began about the veil in Islam has evolved into a large discussion about Islam itself: as a religion, the Islamic movement in France and the relationship between Islam and fundamentalism. The purpose of this article is to examine some definitions of the hijab and its meaning in the context of the Qur’an, and to analyse some of the understandings of the hijab, as articulated in the late twentieth century by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. It also explores the nature of Muslim reactions in France as well as their tensions with the surrounding society, as a result of the French ban on wearing the veil in public schools.

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Dan Smith

Abstract

Olivia Plender’s single-volume comic A Stellar Key to the Summerland (2007) offers an account of the origins of the Spiritualist movement. This book is part of a practice that deploys historiographic methodologies. Plender explores social and esoteric beliefs from the past that disturb contemporary expectations. The illumination of alternative formations and beliefs in the past offers a redress to the apparent inevitability of the social and economic topographies of the present. The use of comics is read here as part of an ongoing practice of excavation. A Stellar Key to the Summerland uses the form of graphic narrative to create a reflexive history. The work contributes to a practice that overlays dream geographies onto perceptions and expectations of social reality, and is suggestive of the possibility of social change while engaging with notions of belief and religiosity.

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Totalitarian Language

Creating Symbols to Destroy Words

Juan Francisco Fuentes

This article deals with totalitarianism and its language, conceived as both the denial and to some extent the reversal of liberalism and its conceptual framework. Overcoming liberal language meant not only setting up new political terminology, but also replacing words with symbols, ideas with sensations. This is why the standard political lexicon of totalitarianism became hardly more than a slang vocabulary for domestic consumption and, by contrast, under those regimes—mainly Italian fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism—a amboyant universe of images, sounds, and metaphors arose. Many of these images revolved around the human body as a powerful means to represent a charismatic leadership and, at the same time, an organic conception of their national communities. Totalitarian language seems to be a propitious way to explore the “dark side” of conceptual history, constituted by symbols rather than words.

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Max Stille

Abstract

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.

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Gilles Montigny, Kenneth Thompson, Derek Robbins, and William Ramp

Bernard Valade (dir.). Durkheim. L’institutionnalisation de la sociologie, (coll. Débats philosophiques), Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2008, 171 pp.

Massimo Rosati. Ritual and the Sacred: A Neo-Durkheimian Analysis of Politics, Religion and the Self, Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2009, 163 pp.

Frédéric Keck. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl. Entre philosophie et anthropologie. Contradiction et participation, Paris: CNRS Editions, 2008.

Christian Borch and Tiina Arppe (eds.), ‘The Sacred’, Special Issue, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, no. 19, Aarhus: University of Aarhus, 2009 (www.unipress.dk)

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Religion, Space, and Place

The Spatial Turn in Research on Religion

Kim Knott

Following a consideration of the impact of the late twentieth-century spatial turn on the study of religion by geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and religious studies scholars, two trends are distinguished: the poetics of place and the sacred; and politics, religion, and the contestation of space. Discussion of these reveals substantially different approaches to religion, space, and place—one phenomenological, the other social constructivist. The spatial turn has been extremely fruitful for research on religion, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, and connecting not only to traditional areas such as sacred space and pilgrimage, but to new ones such as embodiment, gender, practice and religious-secular engagements.

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Florence Rochefort

In the French polemics over the Islamic headscarf, the relationship betweensecularism and sexual equality has sometimes been made out to be an artificialone. The articulation between politics, religion, secularism, and women'srights is examined here over the longue durée. Since the beginning of the secularizationprocess during the French Revolution, a minority has championedan egalitarian conception of secularization. Rivalries between or convergencesof political and religious authorities have driven an ambivalent and not veryequal secularization, creating secular pacts that rely on gender pacts to thedetriment of equality. This dynamic reversed itself beginning in the 1960swith the battle for legal contraception and abortion, which shook one of thevery bases of French Catholicism to its foundation. The headscarf affairsrevealed the egalitarian effects of secularism and favored the elaboration ofthought about secularism in conjunction with sexual equality, which, whateverthe various interpretations of that thought may be, could prove to be anon-negligible benefit.

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Canine Connections

Fieldwork with a Dog as Research Assistant

Karen Lane

My research seeks out muted narratives that struggle to be heard in the contested city of Belfast. My dog is one of my ethnographic methods: dog-walking is rarely a direct journey from A to B and she can 'authenticate' my lingering presence in unfamiliar places; she is a gateway to dog-focused communal activities; and her categorisation of people is based on smell, not politics, religion or country of origin. When encountering random strangers with an attractive and friendly dog, her role is obvious: introduction enacted, anthropologist takes over. But does she simply mediate the encounter or does she shape what happens? The relationship between dog and person is reciprocal and the extent to which each actor responds to the other prolongs and moulds the encounter. Can she elicit stories that may not otherwise be told, do more than 'only connect'? This article draws on actor-network theory and cosmopolitanism.

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Deborah Evans

any discussion of Islam as a religion. Islam is a political religion, yet the terrorist atrocities of jihad (interpreted as violence against the kufr , or unbeliever) stem uniquely from a Salafist/Wahhabi ideological worldview. Wahhabism, a form of

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Fascism as a style of life

Community life and violence in a neofascist movement in Italy

Maddalena Gretel Cammelli

debate has erupted around the political and historical phenomenon of fascism in an effort to grasp its inner logic. Besides its relationship with the capitalist system, as stressed by Marxist analyses, fascism has been explained as a “political religion