Nation and Religion: Perspectives on Europe and Asia

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Does modernity make religion politically irrelevant? Conventional scholarly and popular wisdom says that it does. The prevailing view assumes that the onset of western modernity—characterized by the rise of nationalism, the dominance of capitalism, and the emergence of powerful state institutions—favors secularism and relegates religion to the purely private realm. This collection of essays on nationalism and religion in Europe and Asia challenges that view. Contributors show that religion and politics are mixed together in complex and vitally important ways not just in the East, but in the West as well.

The book focuses on four societies: India, Japan, Britain, and the Netherlands. It shows that religion and nationalism in these societies combined to produce such notions as the nation being chosen for a historical task (imperialism, for example), the possibility of national revival, and political leadership as a form of salvation. The volume also examines the qualities of religious discourse and practice that can be used for nationalist purposes, paying special attention to how religion can help to give meaning to sacrifice in national struggle. The book's comparative approach underscores that developments in colonizing and colonized countries, too often considered separately, are subtly interrelated.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Benedict R. Anderson, Talal Asad, Susan Bayly, Partha Chatterjee, Frans Groot, Harry Harootunian, Hugh McLeod, Barbara Metcalf, and Peter van Rooden.

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What People Are Saying

Gyan Prakash
Nation and Religion urges us to rethink the received historical interpretation that associates the onset of western modernity with the separation of the private world of religion from the public domain of politics.
Gyan Prakash, Princeton University
Prasenjit Duara
Van der Veer and Lehmann have collected eminent scholars to focus on the manifold connections between religion and nationalism. . . . There are keen scholarly insights here that will appeal to a wide readership.
Prasenjit Duara, University of Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691012322
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/12/1999
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 The Moral State: Religion, Nation, and Empire in Victorian Britain and British India 15
3 Protestantism and British National Identity, 1815-1945 44
4 Race in Britain and India 71
5 History, the Nation, and Religion: The Transformations of the Dutch Religious Past 96
6 On Religious and Linguistic Nationalisms: The Second Partition of Bengal 112
7 Nationalism, Modernity, and Muslim Identity in India before 1947 129
8 Memory, Mourning, and National Morality: Yasukuni Shrine and the Reunion of State and Religion in Postwar Japan 144
9 Papists and Beggars: National Festivals and Nation Building in the Netherlands during the Nineteenth Century 161
10 Religion, Nation-State, Secularism 178
11 The Goodness of Nations 197
Bibliography 205
List of Contributors 223
Index 225
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