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Religion After Invention, or Cosmopolitics

Class at Faculty of Arts |

This text is not available in the current language. Showing version "cs".Syllabus

Part 1: Inventions & Provincializations  

Asad, Talal. 1993. “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category,” in T. Asad. Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore–London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 27–54.

Fitzgerald, Timothy. 2000. “Part IV: Problems with the Category 'Culture',” in T. Fitzgerald, The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 221–251.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. “Introduction: The Idea of Provincializing Europe” & “Reason and the Critique of Historicism,” in D. Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 3–23 & 237–255.  

Part 2: Cosmological Realism  

Stolow, Jeremy. 2013. “Introduction: Religion, Technology and the Thing in Between,” in J. Stolow ed., Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology and the Thing in Between. New York: Fordham University Press, 1–22.

Sahlins, Marshall. 1996. “The Sadness of Sweetness: The Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology.” Current Anthropology 37.3: 395–428.

Löwy, Michael. 2009. “Capitalism as Religion: Walter Benjamin and Max Weber.” Historical Materialism, 17: 60–73.

Gad, Christopher et al. 2015. “Practical Ontology: Worlds in STS and Anthropology.” NatureCulture 3: 67–86.

Latour, Bruno. 2004. “Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics? Comments on the Peace Terms of Ulrich Beck.” Common Knowledge 10.3: 450–62.  

Part 3: Cosmopolitics  

Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2011. “Zeno and the art of anthropology: of lies, beliefs, paradoxes, and other truths.” Common Knowledge 17.1: 128–145.

Blaser, Mario. 2016. “Is another cosmopolitics possible?” Cultural Anthropology 31.4: 545–570.

Harris, Oliver J. T. & John Robb. 2012. “Multiple Ontologies and the Problem of the Body in History.” AmericanAnthropologist 114.4: 668–679.  

Part 4: Margins  

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 1994. “From the Margins.” Cultural Anthropology 9: 279–297.

This text is not available in the current language. Showing version "cs".Annotation

The “Invention of Religion” discourse has demonstrated how the concept of religion is not a universal, but a historically specific formation with its own cultural baggage and politics. However, the thought practices it is based in cannot overcome the limits inherent to deconstruction, i.e. this line of research can only show the limits of concepts such as religion or culture. Meanwhile scholarship on the edges of anthropology and STS (science and technology studies) offers ways out of this dilemma, while accepting its criticisms.

This course aims to first outline the deconstructive approach to religion, trace some of the historical reasons for why religion today appears as a really existing thing “out there” and then move on to introduce an alternative way to think religion, culture and politics. Namely, following the work of Bruno Latour, I introduce the concept of “cosmopolitics”, while a related term in this research is “practical ontologies”. The selection of texts hopes to make clear the radicality, pertinence and appropriateness of the introduced concepts and scholars for our times.

The course will take place once a month. In between meetings, there will be weekly reading and writing assignments which will form the basis for class discussions. Some knowledge in contemporary philosophy is of advantage but not necessary. In case of excessive enrollment, preference will be given to religious studies students.