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.
Politicaltheologies in the wake of the
In the wake of the sudden death of the Celtic Tiger Irish business leaders called
for the suspension of normal partisan democratic politics and the formation
of a one-party government with the will to make crucial decisions necessary to
deal with the ‘exceptional circumstances’ occasioned by this ‘national
emergency’. The government, they charged, was drifting aimlessly, unable to
clarify what needed to be done and unwilling to rule. What was needed,
Ireland’s businessmen claimed, was ‘an all party
Scholarship on politicaltheology has made important interventions toward deconstructing the official script of secularism and revealing the ‘secular conversion’ of a Christian ethos into the constitutional-juridical scaffolding of modern nation-states (Schmitt, 2005 ; Lefort, 2006 ). In the context of Enlightenment Europe, politicaltheology developed a number of critical analytical tools to ‘unmake’ the secular fiction of political modernity. Recognising that politicaltheology discourse emerged as a transgressive, deviant expression of modern thinking, we
The debate on the polity of the church was at the centre of the religious debates
in the British Atlantic world during the middle decades of the
seventeenth-century. From the Covenanter revolution in Scotland, to the
congregationalism of the New England colonies, to the protracted debates of the
Westminster assembly, and the abolition of the centuries-old episcopalian
structure of the Church of England, the issue of the polity of the church was
intertwined with the political questions of the period. This book collects
together essays focusing on the conjunction of church polity and politics in the
middle years of the seventeenth century. A number of chapters in the volume
address the questions and conflicts arising out of the period’s reopening and
rethinking of the Reformation settlement of church and state. In addition, the
interplay between the localities and the various Westminster administrations of
the era are explored in a number of chapters. Beyond these discussions, chapters
in the volume explore the deeper ecclesiological thinking of the period,
examining the nature of the polity of the church and its relationship to society
at large. The book also covers the issues of liberty of conscience and how
religious suffering contributed to a sense of what the true church was in the
midst of revolutionary political upheaval. This volume asserts the fundamental
connection between church polity and politics in the revolutions that affected
the seventeenth-century British Atlantic world.
The previously unexplored legacy of religious anarchism in traditional Jewish theology is examined for the first time in this book. Probing the life and thought of figures whose writings have gone largely unread since they were first published, Hayyim Rothman makes, in the first place, a case for the existence of this heritage. He shows that there existed, from the late nineteenth though the mid-twentieth century, a loosely connected group of rabbis and traditionalist thinkers who explicitly appealed to anarchist ideas in articulating the meaning of the Torah, of traditional practice, of Jewish life, and the mission of modern Jewry. Supported by close readings of the Yiddish and Hebrew writings of Yaakov Meir Zalkind, Yitshak Nahman Steinberg, Yehuda Leyb Don-Yahiya, Avraham Yehudah Hen, Natah Hofshi, Shmuel Alexandrov, and Yehudah Ashlag this book traces a complicated story about the intersection, not only of religion and anarchism, but also of pacifism and Zionism, prophetic anti-authoritarianism, and mystical antinomianism. Bringing to light, not merely fresh source material, but uncovering a train of modern Jewish political thought that has scarcely been imagined, much less studied, No masters but God is a groundbreaking contribution.
Genealogies of Shiʿa humanitarianism in Pakistan, England, and Iraq
Starting with the seminal work of Carl Schmitt (1985[ 1922 ]), scholars of politicaltheology have always been interested in the examination of the religious roots of modern secular formations. 1 For instance, most recently, Wydra ( 2015 ) argues that ‘transcendence’ has had a continuous historical presence in political processes up to the present day. Applying this observation to the study of humanitarian reason, Fassin ( 2012 ) frames humanitarianism as a politicaltheology that is historically rooted in Christianity. He situates his argument in a
their authority. Early Christian monarchs legitimised their rule by claiming divine vicariate, while contemporary liberal heads of state act in the name of abstract principles such as ‘the nation’, ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’. Ideologues may claim to have removed God from politics, but, today as in premodern times, ‘politicaltheologies’, whether religious or secular, remain at the heart of power.
In this chapter, I examine the relationship between power and the celestial in Buddhist Thailand by exploring the problem of sovereignty after the death or ‘passing into the
means the first, or the last, to embody yoga as a political idea, Gandhi’s global significance and full articulation of yoga as politicaltheology is the ideal case subject for the speculations and reflections on politicaltheology represented in the organising thesis of this volume and its many different chapters. Our contribution plays with the volume’s themes of ‘politicaltheology’ and ‘development’ through our focus on yoga and the ideologies articulated by Gandhi.
Yoga as politicaltheology
Our chapter is about yoga, but not the yoga restricted to the iconic
Shaping the body-politic via institutional charisma
historical sociology, supplemented by a critique and reconstruction of categories of Western social theory. One of the primary fields of historical sociology concerns how the modern state has emerged and taken form since the Late Middle Ages. This chapter approaches the concept of ‘politicaltheology’ through the analysis of the influence of religious knowledge and symbols on state-formation. My approach does not consist in applying general theory, whether Whiggish or less so, to Asian Islamicate cases. I am rather going the opposite path. Even if tentatively referring to
This chapter aims to investigate the politicaltheology of development in South Korea through an analysis of trends in popular and media culture in the context of its unique circumstances vis-à-vis modernity. It focuses on the cultural production of a particular form of citizenship – development citizenship, which I suggest, serves as the subjective basis for what I have in other work called ‘spiritualised nationalism’ (Han, 2017 ).
The chapter takes cues methodologically and conceptually from media-focused cultural studies (Fiske, 1992 ; Kellner, 2003