Forthcoming publications

Please see details below of a number of forthcoming publications in 2012

Natural Burial: Traditional-Secular Spiritualities and Funeral Innovation

Hannah Rumble and Douglas Davies

26th July 2012

“Co-authored with Prof Douglas Davies in the Dept. for Theology and Religion, University of Durham.
From the 1990s the British developed an interest in natural burial, also known as woodland, green, or eco-logical burial. This continued a stream of British interest in funeral innovation from Victorian cemetery monuments through the birth and rise of cremation to the many things done with cremated remains. The book sets natural burial in the context of creative dealing with death, grief, mourning and the celebration of life. Ideas from sociology and anthropology combine with psychological issues and theological ideas to show how human emotions take shape and help people think of their own death as well as dealing with death of those they love.

Douglas Davies and Hannah Rumble explore the variety of motivations for the appeal of natural burial, and use interviews with people using a special natural burial site created by the Church of England but open to all, to illustrate the spiritual understandings of life and death in the sacred, secular and mixed worlds of modern Britain.”

This book is the outcome of the AHRC-ESRC Collaborative doctoral award and will be published by Continuum in July 2012. This joint volume offers a spectrum of anthropological and theological interpretation of people’s choice of woodland burial while also raising numerous theoretical issues pivoting around ideas of ‘giving something back’ and ‘not making a fuss’, as well as the more anticipated issues of ecology

Making Sense of the Secular: Critical Perspectives from Europe to Asia
Edited by Ranjan Ghosh

1st October 2012

This book offers a wide range of critical perspectives on how secularism unfolds and has been made sense of across Europe and Asia. The book evaluates secularism as it exists today – its formations and discontents within contemporary discourses of power, terror, religion and cosmopolitanism – and the focus on these two continents gives critical attention to recent political and cultural developments where secularism and multiculturalism have impinged in deeply problematical ways, raising bristling ideological debates within the functioning of modern state bureaucracies.

Examining issues as controversial as the state of Islam in Europe and China’s encounters with religion, secularism, and modernization provides incisive and broader perspectives on how we negotiate secularism within the contemporary threats of terrorism and other forms of fundamentalism and state-politics. However, amidst the discussions of various versions of secularism in different countries and cultural contexts, this book also raises several other issues relevant to the antitheocratic and theocratic alike, such as: Is secularism is merely a nonreligious establishment? Is secularism a kind of cultural war? How is it related to “terror”? The book at once makes sense of secularism across cultural, religious, and national borders and puts several relevant issues on the anvil for further investigations and understanding.

Europe’s Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular
Luca Mavelli

12 March 2012

In the last few years, the Muslim presence in Europe has been increasingly perceived as ‘problematic’. Events such as the French ban on headscarves in public schools, the publication of the so-called ‘Danish cartoons’, and the speech of Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg have hit the front pages of newspapers the world over, and prompted a number of scholarly debates on Muslims’ capacity to comply with the seemingly neutral and pluralistic rules of European secularity.

Luca Mavelli argues that this perspective has prevented an in-depth reflection on the limits of Europe’s secular tradition and its role in Europe’s conflictual encounter with Islam. Through an original reading of Michel Foucault’s spiritual notion of knowledge and an engagement with key thinkers, from Thomas Aquinas to Jurgën Habermas, Mavelli articulates a contending genealogy of European secularity. While not denying the latter’s achievements in terms of pluralism and autonomy, he suggests that Europe’s secular tradition has also contributed to forms of isolation, which translate into Europe’s incapacity to perceive its encounter with Islam as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Drawing on this theoretical perspective, Mavelli offers a contending account of some of the most important recent controversies surrounding Islam in Europe and investigates the ‘postsecular’ as a normative model to engage with the tensions at the heart of European secularity. Finally, he advances the possibility of a Europe willing to reconsider its established secular narratives which may identify in the encounter with Islam an opportunity to flourish and cultivate its democratic qualities and postnational commitments.

This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of religion and international relations, social and political theory, and Islam in Europe.

Post-Secularism, Realism and Transcendence: Explorations of the Utopian Content of the Religious Condition
Jolyon Agar

30 July 2012

This project addresses the recent rise in post-secularism in the humanities and social sciences. Post-secularism is the proposition that the secular project begun by the Enlightenment has come to an end. If we define secularism as the historical process of increasing marginalisation of the religious from contributing to debates in the public sphere and the process of public policy formation then it is in crisis. This opens up the intriguing possibility that there may be opportunities for renewed debate about the nature of our “secular age” and the role of religion in modern society. Evidence for such a renewal of the religious may be found in the alarming rise of religious fundamentalism in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, especially in the Islamic world and the United States, the resurgence of Catholic conservatism under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI or the increasing popularity of more esoterical quasi-religious New Ageism.

This book will be of great interest to those scholars currently working in the area of post-secularism (a very popular area of research in political philosophy); Hegelian and Marxist scholars; the Critical Realist community. It will also be of interest to undergraduates and postgraduates taking courses in Utopian Marxism, Critical Theory, Critical Realism, post-Hegelian German philosophy, philosophy of religion and the interface between political philosophy and religion.

Religious Experience: A Reader
Edited by Craig Martin, Russell T. McCutcheon
Introduction by  Leslie Dorrough Smith

Many regard religious experience as the essence of religion, arguing that narratives might be created and rituals invented but that these are always secondary to the original experience itself. However, the concept of “experience” has come under increasing fire from a range of critics and theorists. This Reader presents writings from both those who assume the existence and possible universality of religious experience and those who question the very rhetoric of “experience”.

Bringing together both classic and contemporary writings, the Reader showcases differing disciplinary approaches to the study of religious experience: philosophy, literary and cultural theory, history, psychology, anthropology; feminist theory; as well as writings from within religious studies. The essays are structured into pairs, with each essay separately introduced with information on its historical and intellectual context.

The ultimate aim of the Reader is to enable students to explore religious experience as rhetoric created to authorize social identities. The book will be an invaluable introduction to the key ideas and approaches for students of Religion, as well as Sociology and Anthropology.

CONTRIBUTORS: Robert Desjarlais, Diana Eck, William James, Craig Martin, Russell T. McCutcheon, Wayne Proudfoot, Robert Sharf, Ann Taves, Charles Taylor, Joachim Wach, Joan Wallach Scott, Raymond Williams

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