Postsecular Studies, Literature, and Care
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The role of religion in culture and society has become an urgent question in today’s society. In a context of global escalation of politico-religious conflicts and revision of concepts which shed new light onto the allegedly secular modern thought, the tension between religion and (post)secular society must be framed within a multidisciplinary perspective.
Coined in 2001 by Jürgen Habermas to refer to the reconsideration of the role of religion in modern industrial societies, the term “postsecular” reflects the rebirth of debates on the religious phenomenon in different areas of the humanities. Far from being dismissed as a relic of a distant past, religion has become a key concept since the late twentieth century, triggering a veritable “religious turn” in philosophy (in Charles Taylor, Jacques Derrida, Jean Luc Marion, Julia Kristeva or Jean-Luc Nancy), a renewed interest in the history of secularization (in Foucaultian anthropologists such as Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood or Tomoko Masuzawa), the reemergence of critical political theology (in Alain Badiou, Carl Schmitt, Claude Lefort and Giorgio Agamben), the fusion of feminist, ecocritical and postsecular perspectives (in Rossi Braidotti and Michael Hardt), as well as the appearance of numerous studies on the relationship of religion and literature (in Mark Knight and Lori Branch).
The conference “Postsecular Studies, Literature, and Care” pays attention to these current phenomena from two emerging lines or research or turns which have had a deep impact on literary studies in recent years: the “postsecular turn” and the “political turn”. These turns are on the one hand a response to several historical developments—from 9/11 to the coexistence of different though migration—which have caused Western, allegedly secular societies to rethink the role of religion in today’s world. On the other hand, the genealogical analyses of Michel Foucault have uncovered, from the perspective of the history of Western thought, the religious origins of secular modernity’s conceptual framework, and have brought attention to the exhaustion of modernity in the face of the challenges posed by capitalism as the “crisis of great narratives”.
This diverse and multidisciplinary approach to postsecularism entails—as was the case with other concepts such as “postcolonialism” or “postmodernism”—a certain ambivalence and polysemy. In recent years, the postsecular has tended to be considered not as a chronological category following a period of secularization in modernity but rather as a critical stance and as category of analysis capable of gauging the tensions between the religious and the secular. In short, the postsecular has been defined as an epistemic perspective which observes that the religious and the secular have been inextricably connected since modernity. The present conference shall endeavor to develop a notion of the postsecular as a way of paying attention to the relationship between religious and political power, new political theologies, the historical construction of religion and the secular, as well as the emergence of new spiritualities in (post)industrial societies.
From this vantage point, the present conference acknowledges the inherent pluralism of the postsecular and sets out to study its ambivalence and polysemy from a plural perspective which pays attention to its several dimensions, from philology and history, to philosophy and the critical analysis of the present era. In addition, the politics of literature as proposed by Jacques Rancière and Michel Foucault, is one of the main avenues of analysis of the postsecular.
Registration fee: 35 €
May 15, 2023, 10:00pm CET
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