Modernities, Secularism, and Science

Graduate students in the Department are provided with avenues to explore religion as it is shaped in, through, and after global modernisms. This includes religion’s dynamic relationships with scientific knowledge production and formations of the secular. Religion is not viewed as an artifact that is essentially other to the secular, but as a domain that emerges in tandem with the secular, and is therefore marked by the trace of secularity. Secularism, too, is not seen as something that has been extricated from religion, but as a set of social, political, and historical practices that are actively involved with the production of religiosity. This leads into the relationship of religion and science, whether as a complex history of entangled practices of knowledge-production or as a subject of scientific investigation in itself. Legal regimes and economic structures also affect religion-making. Legislation, jurisprudence, law enforcement, and global human rights frameworks make religion a target of secular law. Political-economic relationships such as colonialism, industrial capitalism, late socialism, and neoliberalism determine how specific phenomena appear as religious or secular, superstitious or magical, indispensable or superfluous. Prof. Jolyon Thomas, Prof. Donovan Schaefer, and colleagues in the departments of History and Sociology of Science, Philosophy, History, Sociology, Political Science, and Law supervise study of research projects falling under these headings.