Religious Politics and Secular States: Egypt, India, and the United States

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Overview

This comparative analysis probes why conservative renderings of religious tradition in the United States, India, and Egypt remain so influential in the politics of these three ostensibly secular societies.

The United States, Egypt, and India were quintessential models of secular modernity in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1980s and 1990s, conservative Islamists challenged the Egyptian government, India witnessed a surge in Hindu nationalism, and the Christian right in the United States rose to dominate the Republican Party and large swaths of the public discourse. Using a nuanced theoretical framework that emphasizes the interaction of religion and politics, Scott W. Hibbard argues that three interrelated issues led to this state of affairs.

First, as an essential part of the construction of collective identities, religion serves as a basis for social solidarity and political mobilization. Second, in providing a moral framework, religion's traditional elements make it relevant to modern political life. Third, and most significant, in manipulating religion for political gain, political elites undermined the secular consensus of the modern state that had been in place since the end of World War II. Together, these factors sparked a new era of right-wing religious populism in the three nations.

Although much has been written about the resurgence of religious politics, scholars have paid less attention to the role of state actors in promoting new visions of religion and society. Religious Politics and Secular States fills this gap by situating this trend within long-standing debates over the proper role of religion in public life.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

With its accessible language and rich examples, this book would be of interest to a wide audience that includes general readers as well as scholars of religion and politics.

Anthropology Review Database
Students of contemporary religion and contemporary politics should consider Hibbard's argument very seriously.

— Jack David Eller

Times Literary Supplement
His analysis, carried through across three different religions, is impressive.

— Jonathan Benthall

Choice
With its accessible language and rich examples, this book would be of interest to a wide audience that includes general readers as well as scholars of religion and politics.
Review of Middle East Studies
This is a fascinating work, well worth a careful read by Middle East specialists.

— Paul Sedra

Anthropology Review Database - Jack David Eller
Students of contemporary religion and contemporary politics should consider Hibbard's argument very seriously.
Times Literary Supplement - Jonathan Benthall
His analysis, carried through across three different religions, is impressive.
Review of Middle East Studies - Paul Sedra
This is a fascinating work, well worth a careful read by Middle East specialists.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421405773
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,038,595
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott W. Hibbard is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Islamic Activism and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction: Rethinking the Secular State 1

1 Reinterpreting Modern Religious Politics 18

2 The Rise and Decline of Egyptian Secularism 49

3 The Islamization of Egyptian Politics 80

4 The Rise and Decline of Indian Secularism 115

5 Embedding Communalism in Indian Politics 149

6 The Rise and Decline of American Secularism 177

7 Religious Nationalism in the Reagan-Bush Era 208

Conclusion: Religious Politics Reconsidered 244

Notes 259

Index 297

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