Religious Aspirations, Public Religion, and the Secularity of Pluralism

  • Patrick Eisenlohr
Part of the Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series book series ( CAL)


The salience of religious activism and mobilizations throughout the contemporary world is perhaps the main reason for the popularity of the notion of the postsecular. The latter is inspired by hopes for greater inclusiveness towards religious groups and their aspirations, realizing that they are not necessarily incompatible with emancipatory political agendas, as well as the insight that religion remains a key component of social and political life that no amount of modernizing ‘progress’ and expansion of scientific knowledge can make disappear. At the same time, the term also owes much of its currency to the assumption that religion had actually been pushed back by modernization processes but has now ‘returned.’ However, an array of scholarship has demonstrated that religion actually never went away but was powerfully transformed by European imperial expansion and the rise of the nation state (Asad, 2003; Masuzawa, 2005; van der Veer, 2001). To make matters more complex, it is now increasingly clear that the modern comparative category of ‘religion’ that provides the basis for any discussion of secularization is actually the product of the same modernization processes that until relatively recently were widely believed to be responsible for an assumed decline of religion. Modern practices of governmentality delineated religion as a sphere of life separate from politics, law, economy, science, and society, and, as such, the universal category of religion is co-constituted through what is frequently regarded as its binary opposite, the secular.


Religious Tradition Religious Activism Religious Diversity Contemporary World Mahatma Gandhi Institute 
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© Patrick Eisenlohr 2014

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  • Patrick Eisenlohr

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