måndag, februari 28, 2011

Asad om religion och politik

Via ett inlägg på The Immanent Frame om religionens roll för revolutionen i Egypten, hittade jag en fantastiskt intressant föreläsning av antropologen Talal Asad (pdf). Utdrag i urval:
The reason there can’t be a universal conception of religion is not because religious phenomena are infinitely varied – although there is in fact great variety in the way people live in the world with their religious beliefs. Nor is it the case that there is no such thing as religion, as some have suggested. It is that defining is an historical act and when the definition is deployed it does different things in different times and circumstances, and responds to different questions, needs, pressures. The concept “religion” is not merely a word: it connects to vocabularies that bring persons and things, desires and practices together in particular traditions in distinctive ways. This applies also to religion’s twin “secularity”..."


"How does democratic sensibility as an ethos (whether “religious” or “secular”) accord with democracy as the political system of a state? The former, after all, involves the desire for mutual care, distress at the infliction of pain and indignity, concern for the truth more than for immutable subjective rights, the ability to listen and not merely to tell, and the willingness to evaluate behavior without being judgmental toward others; it tends toward greater inclusivity. The latter is jealous of its sovereignty, defines and protects the subjective rights of its citizens (including their right to “religious freedom”), infuses them with nationalist fervor, and invokes bureaucratic rationality in governing them justly; it is fundamentally exclusive. My point is not to argue that the two are necessarily incompatible. I simply ask whether the latter undermines the former – and if it does, then to what extent. I suggest, finally, that the modern idea of religious belief (protected as an individual right) is a function of the secular state but not of democratic sensibility."

Asads kritik av den liberala tendensen att definiera och särskilja vad man kallar religion från annan mänsklig aktivitet är central för vad som kan kallas en postsekulär epistemologi. Centralt för detta perspektiv är viljan att hålla samman teori och praktik genom att framhålla hur vårt tänkande är inbäddat i sociala praktiker. Det finns här intressanta paralleller mellan Asads föreläsning och James K.A Smith postmoderna perspektiv på karismatik och rationalitet. Asad och Smith förenas i sin betoning av sambandet mellan tänkande, gemenskap och kropp. Smith utvecklar dessa tankar bland annat i denna föreläsning.

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