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CfH Lectures


17 December 2014

Multiculturalising Secularism, Multiculturalising State-Religion Connections

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This lecture is introduced by Prof. Rosi Braidotti.

Prof. Tariq Modood argues that what is sometimes talked about as the ‘post-secular’ or a ‘crisis of secularism’ is, in Western Europe, quite crucially to do with the reality of multiculturalism. By which he means not just the fact of new ethno-religious diversity but the presence of a multiculturalist approach to this diversity, namely: the idea that equality must be extended from uniformity of treatment to include respect for difference; recognition of public/private interdependence rather than dichotomized as in classical liberalism; the public recognition and institutional accommodation of minorities; the reversal of marginalisation and a remaking of national citizenship so that all can have a sense of belonging to it. He argues that equality requires that this ethno-cultural multiculturalism should be extended to state-religion connections in Western Europe, which he characterises as ‘moderate secularism’, based on the idea that political authority should not be subordinated to religious authority yet religion can be a public good which the state should assist in realising or utilising. In this paper he considers three ways to multiculturalise secularism which are not satisfactory in terms of his conception of multiculturalism and/or moderate secularism.

The lecture was given within the framework of RELSEC – Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging Initiative, a project led by five centers located in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and China. This project investigates how religious and secular formations organize the practices of political belonging across the globe. RELSEC brings together scholars from across a wide variety of fields. RELSEC’s ultimate goal is to move from beyond a mere “comparative study” – whether religion or secularism – and toward a translocal mapping of the global networks of religious and secular discourse.