The modern project of the secular does not so much aim at the total elimination of the religious, but rather at a radical separation of religion and magic. The former is supposed to be rational and to contribute to social cohesion, while the later is irrational and destructive. Such an ideological project is connected to state power in education and the regulation of religious practices. This paper examines critically some of the concepts relating to emancipation and rationality that are foundational to secular projects with diverse genealogies in the West (Europe and the US) and Asian (India and China).
This lecture was given within the framework of the academic year-long lecture series on postsecularism, a collaboration of BAK and the Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University, marking part of the research trajectory of Concerning the Post-Secular, a long-term, multifaceted project at BAK. The lecture series aims at investigating the “post-secular” as a central aspect of our current historical condition and the mutual engagements of secularism and religious discourses especially in contemporary Europe. It maps the intersections of the “post-secular” with social and political theory as well as cultural and artistic practices and movements with special emphasis on issues of political theory, Islam in Europe, ethics, human rights, feminist practices, contemporary art, and the European tradition of liberal humanism.