Rancière, religion and the political

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Sociology, Egyptology & Anthropology Department

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Research Article

Publication Title

Citizenship Studies

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In the past few decades, the 'return of the religious' has been a recurrent theme in popular and academic discourse. From debates regarding the permissibility of religious dress and symbols in the public sphere, to questions of the integration of Muslim immigrants, concerns about the rise of the Christian Right in American politics and the role of Islam in the uprisings of the Arab Spring, a great deal of attention has been accorded to the presence of religion and religious subjects in the public sphere. Such has been the importance attached to accounting for, categorizing and contending with this phenomenon that it has attracted the attention of many of the major figures in contemporary social and political thought. However, the ideas of Jacques Rancière, one of the foremost figures in contemporary political philosophy, are noticeably absent in these discussions. In this article, I take up the task of investigating how Rancière's political philosophy can be brought to bear on debates surrounding the relationship between citizenship, religion and the political. I argue that his reconceptualization of politics, democracy and political subjectivity makes apparent the limitations, and even futility of current debates between advocates of secular universalism and those of religious pluralism, and, through assisting in the critical analysis of the public presence of religion, provide an opening for the potential emergence of alternative forms of community and political subjectivity. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.

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