Political theologies and development in Asia

Transcendence, sacrifice, and aspiration

This innovative and timely reassessment of political theology opens new lines of critical investigation into the intersections of religion and politics in contemporary Asia. Political Theologies and Development in Asia pioneers the theo-political analysis of Asian politics and in so doing moves beyond a focus on the (Post-)Christian West that has to date dominated scholarly discussions on this theme. It also locates ‘development’ as a vital focus for critical investigations into Asian political theologies. The volume includes contributions by leading anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists. Each chapter brings new theoretical approaches into conversation with detailed empirical case studies grounded in modern Asia. Not only does the volume illustrate the value and import of this approach to a diverse set of contemporary Asian societies and religions, but it also provides a forceful argument for why political theology itself requires this broader horizon to remain relevant and critical. The focus on ‘development’ – conceptualised broadly here as a set of modern transnational networks of ideas and practices of improvement that connect geographically disparate locations¬¬ – enables a fresh and critical analysis of the ways in which political theology is imagined, materialised, and contested both within and beyond particular nation-states. Investigating the sacred dimensions of power through concepts of transcendence, sacrifice, and victimhood, and aspiration and salvation, the chapters in this collection demonstrate how European and Asian modernities are bound together through genealogical, institutional, and theo-political entanglements, as well as a long history of global interactions.

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