A Secular Age beyond the West

Religion, Law and the State in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa

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Mirjam Künkler, John Madeley, Shylashri Shanker
Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge University Press
    , July
     440 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Kim Shivley forthcoming.


This book traces religion and secularity in eleven countries not shaped by Western Christianity (Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and Morocco), and how they parallel or diverge from Charles Taylor's grand narrative of the North Atlantic world, A Secular Age (2007). In all eleven cases, the state - enhanced by post-colonial and post-imperial legacies - highly determines religious experience, by variably regulating religious belief, practice, property, education and/or law. Taylor's core condition of secularity - namely, legal permissibility and social acceptance of open religious unbelief (Secularity III) - is largely absent in these societies. The areas affected by state regulation, however, differ greatly. In India, Israel and most Muslim countries, questions of religious law are central to state regulation. But it is religious education and organization in China, and church property and public practice in Russia that bear the brunt. This book explains these differences using the concept of 'differential burdening'.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Mirjam Künkler is Senior Research Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS). Before joining SCAS, she taught Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University where she also directed the Oxford-Princeton research cluster on 'Traditional authority and transnational religious networks in contemporary Shi'i Islam' and co-directed the Luce Program on 'Religion and International Affairs' for several years.

John Madeley taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science for some three decades.

Shylashri Shankar is the author of Scaling Justice: India's Supreme Court, Anti-Terror Laws and Social Rights (2009), and co-author of Battling Corruption (2013).

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