Publication: Islam and the Politics of Secularism and Varieties of Secularism in Asia

Islam and the Politics of Secularism

The Caliphate and Middle Eastern Modernization in the Early 20th Century

Nurullah Ardic

Published 16th January 2012 by Routledge – 394 pages

This book examines the process of secularization in the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th century through an analysis of the transformation and abolition of Islamic Caliphate. Focusing on debates in both the center of the Caliphate and its periphery, the author argues that the relationship between Islam and secularism was one of accommodation, rather than simply conflict and confrontation, because Islam was the single most important source of legitimation in the modernization of the Middle East.

Through detailed analysis of both official documents and the writings of the intellectuals who contributed to reforms in the Empire, the author first examines the general secularization process in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th century up to the end of the 1920s. He then presents an in-depth analysis of a crucial case of secularization: the demise of Islamic Caliphate. Drawing upon a wide range of secondary and primary sources on the Caliphate and the wider process of political modernization, he employs discourse analysis and comparative-historical methods to examine how the Caliphate was first transformed into a “spiritual” institution and then abolished in 1924 by Turkish secularists. Ardiç also demonstrates how the book’s argument is applicable to wider secularization and modernization processes in the Middle East.

Deriving insights from history, anthropology, Islamic law and political science, the book will engage a critical mass of scholars interested in Middle Eastern studies, political Islam, secularization and the near-global revival of religion as well as the historians of Islam and late-Ottoman Empire, and those working in the field of historical sociology and the sociology of religion as a case study.

Varieties of Secularism in Asia

Anthropological Explorations of Religion, Politics and the Spiritual

Edited by Nils Ole Bubandt, Martijn Van Beek

Published 29th September 2011 by Routledge – 261 pages
Varieties of Secularism is an ethnographically rich, theoretically well-informed, and intellectually coherent volume which builds off the work of Talal Asad, Charles Taylor, and others who have engaged the issue of secularism(s) and in socio-political life. The volume seeks to examine theories of secularism/secularity and examine concrete ethnographic cases in order to further the theoretical discussion.

Whereas Taylor’s magisterial work draws up the conditions and problems of a belief in God in Western modernity, it leaves unexplored the challenges posed by the spiritual in modernity outside of the North Atlantic rim. This anthology seeks to begin that task. It does so by suggesting that the kind of secularity described by Taylor is only one amongst others. By attending to the shifting relationship between proper religion and ‘bad faiths’; between politically valorised and embarrassing spiritual phenomena; between the new visibilities and silences of magic, ancestors, and religion in democratic politics, this book seeks to outline the particular formations of secularism that have become possible in Asia from China to Indonesia and from Bahrain to Timor-Leste.


CFP: New York Conference on Asian Studies (Asian Religions in the West and Asian American Religions)

Perhaps some room for an NSRN panel or presentation; particularly to address challenges to the epistemological models implied in the secularity thesis and structures of modernity and enlightenment thought, assumptions about belief as a central tenet to religion and critiques of secular ideologies outside mono-theistic traditions. The ongoing visibility of religious practices and role of new technologies as tools in this challenge is also another possible avenue of exploration in the conference themes.


September 28-29, 2012

State University of New York at New Paltz

Asian Religions in the West and Asian American Religions: Contesting Identities and Praxis

Graduate students and scholars working in all areas and disciplines of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies are invited to submit proposals on papers that engage the theme of “Asian religions in the West and Asian American Religions”. Topics may include, but are not limited, to the following:

–Contesting established gender and social roles

–Resistance to established canons and epistemological models

–Contesting identities and the politics of identity

–Performance of identities and ritual constructions of community

–The role and impact of globalization

–The role and impact of new media, social media, cyber-space and cyber-communities

–Invented traditions and their political, social, historical, or cultural repercussions

Proposals should include the name, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address of the presenter, the title of the paper, and an abstract not exceeding 250 words in length. Please submit individual paper proposals to Cuong T. Mai at (, by March 15, 2012.

More information here