Why Politics Can't Be Freed From Religion / Edition 1

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Why Politics Can't be Freed From Religion is an original, erudite, and timely new book from Ivan Strenski. Itinterrogates the central ideas and contexts behind religion, politics, and power, proposing an alternative way in which we should think about these issues in the twenty-first century.

  • A timely and highly original contribution to debates about religion, politics and power – and how historic and social influences have prejudiced our understanding of these concepts
  • Proposes a new theoretical framework to think about what these ideas and institutions mean in today&'s society
  • Applies this new perspective to a variety of real-world issues, including insights into suicide bombers in the Middle East
  • Includes radical critiques of the religious and political perspectives of thinkers such as Talal Asad and Michel Foucault
  • Dislodges our conventional thinking about politics and religion, and in doing so, helps make sense of the complexities of our twenty-first century world
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Overall the book is an excellent contribution.” (Political Studies Review, 1 January 2013)

“But as a powerful myth-buster of some of the great fallacies about religion and politics, or even as a primer in the study of religion for undergraduates, it works very well and would serve to provoke lively debate.” (Modern Believing, 1 April 2012)

"The book is written in an accessible and engaging style, and readers who are new to the field of religion and politics will find it readable and helpful". (Religion, September 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405176491
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/15/2010
  • Series: Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos Series , #37
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of numerous books, including: Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (2002); Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (2003); The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (2006); Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to Theories of Religion and Thinking About Religion: A Reader (both Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).

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Table of Contents


1. When God Plays Politics: Radical Interrogations of Religion, Power, and Politics

2. Interrogating ‘Religion’

1. Religion Trouble

2. ‘Seeing’ Religion: Six Common Clichés

3. Gagging at the Feast of Two Unexamined Assumptions: Religion, All Good or All Bad

4. The Religion-Is-No-Good Cliché

5. The Second Set of Two Clichés: Religion Is Belief and Belief in God

6. ‘Religion’s’ Private Parts

7. Powerless in Paradise

8. Two Ways to Eliminate ‘Religion’

9. Is Religion Our Phlogiston? An Historical Test Case

10. Talal Asad’s ‘Religion’ Trouble

11. The Trick of Defining ‘Religion’

12. Owning ‘Religion’

13. How Durkheim Took ‘Ownership’ of ‘Religion’

14. Religion and Its Despisers

3. Interrogating ‘Power’

1. Confronting the Paradox of ‘Power’

2. How ‘Power’ Plays Havoc with Thinking about "Institutional Violence"

3. Whom Should We Blame? ‘History’ on Trial

4. History’s Helper: We Should Also Blame Foucault

5. Problematizing Power in South Africa

6. Foucault versus Foucault

7. Thinking about Power as Auctoritas and Hierarchy

8. What More Is to Be Done? Thinking about Power as Auctoritas and Social Force

4. Interrogating ‘Politics’

1. Defining ‘Politics’

2. Where There Is No Politics: Despotism and Totalitarianism

3. Autonomous Politics

4. Where Our ‘Politics’ Makes No Sense

5. Politics, the Construct

6. Two Pernicious Views of ‘Politics’

7. History Lessons for Professor Morgenthau

8. What Constitutionalism Owes the Council of Constance

9. The Emergence of the Political . . . from the Religious

10. Machiavelli and Luther: Critical Contributions to the Autonomy of Politics

11. Foucault’s Fault II: ‘Everything Is Political’

12. The Hidden Fascism of Thinking that Everything Is Political

13. Public and Private: No Absolute Line of Demarcation

14. Resisting the Panopticon

15. Afterword: The Autonomy of ‘Politics’ and the Nation-State

5. Testing Interrogations of ‘Religion,’ ‘Power,’ and ‘Politics’: Human Bombers and the Authority of Sacrifice in the Middle East

1. Is ‘Suicide’ Bombing Religious?

2. Making Too Much of Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: ‘Islamofascism’

3. Dying to Make Too Little of Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: Robert A. Pape

4. No Religion in ‘Suicide’ Bombing: Talal Asad

5. How Religion Helps Explain Human Bombing

6. Human Bombing Is "Catastrophe," but also a "Triumph" of "Secular Immortality"

7. Human Bombing = Jihad + Sacrifice

8. Sacrifice or Suicide?

9. But Do Any Muslims Really Think Human Bombers Are ‘Sacrifices’?

10. Sacrifice Makes Authority

11. How and Why Sacrifice Works: The Authority of Sacralization

12. How and Why Sacrifice Works: No Free Gifts

13. Concluding Remarks



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