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What We Talk About When We Talk about Secularism

(p.23) 1 Introduction
Make Yourselves Gods
Peter Coviello
University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers a genealogy of secularism as a mobile, many-voiced critical formulation. Surveying a wide archive of scholarship in and around the secularism concept, and offering up seven axioms for the pursuit of post-secular critique, it argues that the salient distinction, under conditions of secularism, is not between religion and the non-religious but, more fundamentally, between good religion and bad belief; that this disciplinary distinction comes to be operationalized as a gendering, racializing biopolitics; and that we can best grasp secularism as the racialized theodicy of hegemonic liberalism.

Keywords:   Charles Taylor, Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, Sylvia Wynter, Tomoko Masuzawa, secularism, biopolitics, empire, race and religion

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