Political Theology Today A forum for interdisciplinary and interreligious dialogue

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booksPolitical Theology Today is pleased to post book previews, interviews, announcements, calls, etc.  Interested authors, editors, and publishers should contact the blog’s Managing Editor, Carl Raschke, at carlraschke@gmail.com

Books for review in the journal Political Theology may be sent to:  Dr. Elizabeth Phillips, Book Review Editor, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9BS, United Kingdom (Email: ).

Books for review in the online edition of Political Theology Today should be sent to the managing editor.

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New Books

Book selections prepared by Clara Schoonmaker, Syracuse University.

June 2016

Mark G. Brett, Political Trauma and Healing: Biblical Ethics for a Postcolonial World (Eerdmans Press)

From the publisher: “How can Scripture address some of the most important justice issues of our time? In Political Trauma and Healing Mark Brett offers a careful reading of biblical texts that speak to some of our most pressing public issues — the legacies of colonialism, the demands of asylum seekers, the challenges of climate change, and the shaping of redemptive economies. Brett argues that the Hebrew Bible can be read as a series of reflections on political trauma and healing — the long saga of a succession of ancient empires violently asserting their own forms of sovereignty over ancient Israel, and of the Israelites forced to live out new pathways toward restoration.”

Cathleen Kaveny, Prophecy without Contempt:  Religious Discourse in the Public Square (Harvard University Press)

From the publisher: “American culture warriors have plenty to argue about, but battles over such issues as abortion and torture have as much to do with rhetorical style as moral substance. Cathleen Kaveny reframes the debate about religion in the public square by focusing on a powerful stream of religious discourse in American political speech: the Biblical rhetoric of prophetic indictment. Throughout American history, reformers of all political persuasions and for all manner of causes—abolitionists, defenders of slavery, prohibitionists, and civil rights leaders—have echoed the thundering condemnations of the Hebrew prophets in decrying what they see as social evils. Rooted in the denunciations of Puritan sermons, prophetic rhetoric has evolved to match the politics of an increasingly pluralistic society. To employ prophetic indictment in political speech is to claim to speak from a position of unassailable authority—whether God, reason, or common sense—in order to accuse opponents of violating a fundamental law. The fiery rhetoric of prophetic indictment operates very differently from the cooler language of practical deliberation and policy analysis. Kaveny contends that prophetic indictment is a form of “moral chemotherapy”: it can be strong medicine against moral cancers threatening the body politic, but administered injudiciously, it can do more harm than good. Kaveny draws upon a wide array of sources to develop criteria for the constructive use of prophetic indictment. In modern times, Martin Luther King Jr. exemplifies the use of prophetic rhetoric to facilitate reform and reconciliation rather than revenge.”

Cathleen Caveney, A Culture of Engagement: Law, Religion, and Morality (Georgetown University Press)

From the publisher: “Religious traditions in the United States are characterized by ongoing tension between assimilation to the broader culture, as typified by mainline Protestant churches, and defiant rejection of cultural incursions, as witnessed by more sectarian movements such as Mormonism and Hassidism. However, legal theorist and Catholic theologian Cathleen Kaveny contends there is a third possibility—a culture of engagement—that accommodates and respects tradition. It also recognizes the need to interact with culture to remain relevant and to offer critiques of social, political, legal, and economic practices.  Kaveny suggests that rather than avoid the crisscross of the religious and secular spheres of life, we should use this conflict as an opportunity to come together and to encounter, challenge, contribute to, and correct one another. Focusing on five broad areas of interest—Law as a Teacher, Religious Liberty and Its Limits, Conversations about Culture, Conversations about Belief, and Cases and Controversies—Kaveny demonstrates how thoughtful and purposeful engagement can contribute to rich, constructive, and difficult discussions between moral and cultural traditions. This provocative collection of Kaveny’s articles from Commonweal magazine, substantially revised and updated from their initial publication, provides astonishing insight into a range of hot-button issues like abortion, assisted suicide, government-sponsored torture, contraception, the Ashley Treatment, capital punishment, and the role of religious faith in a pluralistic society. At turns masterful, insightful, and inspirational, A Culture of Engagement is a welcome reminder of what can be gained when a diversity of experiences and beliefs is brought to bear on American public life.”
From the publisher: “Wejen Chang brings a fresh perspective to the most prominent Chinese classical philosophers – Confucius, Laozi, Mozi, Zhuangzi, Mencius, Xunzi, Lord Shang and Han Fei. These thinkers founded or influenced the Confucian, Daoist, Mohist and Legalist schools of thought, and their ideas continue to guide China’s thinking and behaviour today. He shows how these thinkers addressed the key question of how philosophical thinking can serve humanity and society. Chang systematically presents their different solutions and evaluates them according to reason and experience, helping you to understand the philosophical roots of law and Chinese law in particular.”

Rubio, Julie Hanio, Hope for Common Ground: Mediating the Personal and the Political in a Divided Church (Georgetown University Press)

From the publisher:  “Much like the rest of the country, American Catholics are politically divided, perhaps more so now than at any point in their history. In this learned but accessible work for scholars, students, and religious and lay readers, ethicist Julie Hanlon Rubio suggests that there is a way beyond red versus blue for orthodox and progressive Catholics. In a call for believers on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide to put aside labels and rhetoric, Rubio, a leading scholar in marriage and family for more than twenty years, demonstrates that common ground does exist in the local sphere between the personal and the political. In Hope for Common Ground, Rubio draws on Catholic Social Thought to explore ways to bring Catholics together. Despite their differences, Catholics across the political spectrum can share responsibility for social sin and work within communities to contribute to social progress. Rubio expands this common space into in-depth discussions on family fragility, poverty, abortion, and end-of-life care. These four issues, though divisive, are part of a seamless worldview that holds all human life as sacred. Rubio argues that if those on different sides focus on what can be done to solve social problems in “the space between” or local communities, opposing sides will see they are not so far apart as they think. The common ground thus created can then lead to far-reaching progress on even the most divisive issues—and help quiet the discord tearing apart the Church.

 July 2016

Mark Elmore, Becoming Religious in a Secular Age (University of California Press)

From the publisher: “Religion is commonly viewed as a timeless element of the human inheritance, but in the Western Himalayas the community of Himachal Pradesh discovered its religion only after India became an independent secular state. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival work, Becoming Religious in a Secular Age tells the story of this discovery and how it transformed a community’s relations to its past, to its members, and to those outside the community. Tracing the emergence of religion, Elmore shows that modern secularity is not so much the eradication of religion as the very condition for its development.”

August 2016

Alice Wilson, Sovereignty in Exile: A Saharan Liberation Movement Governs (University of Pennsylvania Press)

From the publisher: “Sovereignty in Exile explores sovereignty and state power through the case of a liberation movement that set out to make itself into a state. Drawing on unprecedented long-term research gained by living with Sahrawi refugee families, Alice Wilson examines how tribal social relations are undermined, recycled, and have reemerged as the refugee community negotiates governance, resolves disputes, manages social inequalities, and improvises alternatives to taxation. Tracing social, political, and economic changes among Sahrawi refugees, Sovereignty in Exile reveals the dynamics of a postcolonial liberation movement that has endured for decades in the deserts of North Africa while trying to bring about the revolutionary transformation of a society which identifies with a Bedouin past.”

Finbarr Curtis, The Production of American Religious Freedom (NYU Press)

From the publisher: “Americans love religious freedom. Few agree, however, about what they mean by either “religion” or “freedom.” Rather than resolve these debates, Finbarr Curtis argues that there is no such thing as religious freedom. Lacking any consistent content, religious freedom is a shifting and malleable rhetoric employed for a variety of purposes. While Americans often think of freedom as the right to be left alone, the free exercise of religion works to produce, challenge, distribute, and regulate social power. The book traces shifts in the notion of religious freedom in America from The Second Great Awakening, to the fiction of Louisa May Alcott and the films of D.W. Griffith, through William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes Trial, and up to debates over the Tea Party to illuminate how Protestants have imagined individual and national forms of identity.”

Carl Raschke, Critical Theology: An Agenda For An Age Of Global Crisis (IVP Academic)

From the publisher: “What is the future of theology in the midst of rapid geopolitical and economic change?Carl A. Raschke contends that two options from the last century—crisis theology and critical theory—do not provide the resources needed to address the current global crisis. Both of these perspectives remained distant from the messiness and unpredictability of life. Crisis theology spoke of the wholly other God, while critical theory spoke of universal reason. These ideas aren’t tenable after postmodernism and the return of religion, which both call for a dialogical approach to God and the world. Rashke’s new critical theology takes as its starting point the biblical claim that the Word became flesh—a flesh that includes the cultural, political and religious phenomena that shape contemporary existence. Drawing on recent reformulations of critical theory by Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou and post-secularists such as Jürgen Habermas, Raschke introduces an agenda for theological thinking accessible to readers unfamiliar with this literature. In addition, the book explores the relationship between a new critical theology and current forms of political theology. Written with the passion of a manifesto, Critical Theology presents the critical and theological resources for thinking responsibly about the present global situation.”

September 2016

Etienne Balibar, Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Philosophy (Columbia University Press)

From the publisher: “Etienne Balibar boldly confronts the insidious causes of worldwide violence, racism, nationalism, and ethnic cleansing, as well as mass poverty and dispossession. Through a novel synthesis of theory and empirical studies of contemporary violence, he pushes past the limits of political philosophy to introduce a new understanding of politics as anti-violence.”

Suvira Jaiswal, The Making of Brahmanical Hegemony: Studies in Caste, Gender, and Vaishnava Theology (Columbia University Press)

From the publisher: “History is under attack in India –not only from those who popularize a mythical version of the past with ill-concealed political objectives but also from those who, though theoretical relativism that emphasizes cultural specificity and difference, reorientalize the Orientals. Both approaches leave intact the hegemony of thought that underlies today’s social and economic inequalities. This collection of essays focuses on the role of religion and mythology in making Brahmanical hegemony through the institutions of caste, gender, and religious ideology.”

John R. Bowlin, Tolerance among the Virtues (Princeton University Press).

From the publisher: “In a pluralistic society such as ours, tolerance is a virtue—but it doesn’t always seem so. Some suspect that it entangles us in unacceptable moral compromises and inequalities of power, while others dismiss it as mere political correctness or doubt that it can safeguard the moral and political relationships we value. Tolerance among the Virtues provides a vigorous defense of tolerance against its many critics and shows why the virtue of tolerance involves exercising judgment across a variety of different circumstances and relationships—not simply applying a prescribed set of rules. Drawing inspiration from St. Paul, Aquinas, and Wittgenstein, John Bowlin offers a nuanced inquiry into tolerance as a virtue.”

 October 2016

Noah Salomon, For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan’s Islamic State (Princeton University Press)

From the publisher: “For some, the idea of an Islamic state serves to fulfill aspirations for cultural sovereignty and new forms of ethical political practice. For others, it is seen as a violator of the proper domains of religion and politics, an example of the Muslim world slipping backwards in what was once seen as a universal march toward history’s end. For Love of the Prophet looks at the Republic of Sudan’s twenty-five-year experiment with Islamic statehood and explores how the Islamic state is embodied and contested within Sudan’s increasingly fractured public. Through careful ethnographic analysis, Noah Salomon shows how state interventions into three key domains of modern life—politics, aesthetics, and epistemology—rapidly became sites of debate and controversy within diverse Muslim publics.”

Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford, Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850 (Harvard University Press)  

From the publisher: “Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford uncover the lost history of Britain’s global empire of law in colonial conflicts and bureaucratic dispatches rather than legal treatises and case law. Campaigns to police piracy and slave trading linked British interests to the stability of politically fragmented regions. Indigenous peoples, slaves, convicts, merchants, and sailors all scrambled to play a part in reordering the empire and the world beyond it. Yet, through it all, legal reform focused on promoting order, not advancing human rights or charting liberalism. Rage for Order maps a formative phase in world history when imperial, not international, law anchored visions of global order.”

Vaughn Rasberry, Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press)

From the publisher: “Few concepts evoke the twentieth century’s record of war, genocide, repression, and extremism more powerfully than the idea of totalitarianism. Today, studies of the subject are usually confined to discussions of Europe’s collapse in World War II or to comparisons between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In Race and the Totalitarian Century, Vaughn Rasberry parts ways with both proponents and detractors of these normative conceptions in order to tell the strikingly different story of how black American writers manipulated the geopolitical rhetoric of their time. Bringing a new interpretation to events such as the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956, Rasberry’s bird’s-eye view of black culture and politics offers an alternative history of the totalitarian century.”

Osamah F. Khalil, America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State (Harvard University Press)

From the publisher: “America’s Dream Palace brings into sharp focus the ways U.S. foreign policy has shaped the emergence of expertise concerning this crucial, often turbulent and misunderstood part of the world. After World War II, as Washington’s national security establishment required professional expertise in Middle Eastern affairs, it began to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with academic institutions. Newly created programs at Harvard, Princeton, and other universities became integral to Washington’s policymaking in the region. But charges of anti-Americanism within the academy soon strained this cozy relationship. Federal funding for area studies declined, while independent think tanks with ties to the government flourished. By the time the Bush administration declared its Global War on Terror, Osamah Khalil writes, think tanks that actively pursued agendas aligned with neoconservative goals were the drivers of America’s foreign policy.”

Patrick Olivelle, A Dharma Reader: Classical Indian Law (Columbia University Press)

From the publisher: “A Dharma Reader traces the definition, epistemology, procedure, and process of Indian law from the third century BCE to the middle ages. Its breadth captures the centuries-long struggle by Indian thinkers to theorize law in a multiethnic and pluralist society. The volume includes new and accessible translations of key texts, notes that explain the significance of selections, and an introduction that summarizes the development of various disciplines in intellectual-historical terms.”

Adam Kotsko, The Prince of this World (Stanford University Press)

From the publisher: “The most enduring challenge to traditional monotheism is the problem of evil, which attempts to reconcile three incompatible propositions: God is all-good, God is all-powerful, and evil happens. The Prince of This World traces the story of one of the most influential attempts to square this circle: the offloading of responsibility for evil onto one of God’s rebellious creatures. In this striking reexamination, the devil…emerges as a theological symbol who helped oppressed communities cope with the trauma of unjust persecution, torture, and death at the hands of political authorities and eventually becomes a vehicle to justify oppression at the hands of Christian rulers. And he evolves alongside the biblical God, who at first presents himself as the liberator of the oppressed but ends up a cruel ruler who delights in the infliction of suffering on his friends and enemies alike. In other words, this is the story of how God becomes the devil—a devil who remains with us in our ostensibly secular age.”

Albert J. Raboteau, American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice (Princeton University Press)

From the publisher: “American Prophets sheds critical new light on the lives and thought of seven major prophetic figures in twentieth-century America whose social activism was motivated by a deeply felt compassion for those suffering injustice. In this compelling and provocative book, acclaimed religious scholar Albert Raboteau tells the remarkable stories of Abraham Joshua Heschel, A. J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer—inspired individuals who succeeded in conveying their vision to the broader public through writing, speaking, demonstrating, and organizing. Raboteau discusses their theological and ethical positions, and describes the rhetorical and strategic methods these exemplars of modern prophecy used to persuade their fellow citizens to share their commitment to social change.”

Leigh Eric Schmidt, Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (Princeton University Press)

From the publisher: “A much-maligned minority throughout American history, atheists have been cast as a threat to the nation’s moral fabric, barred from holding public office, and branded as irreligious misfits in a nation chosen by God. Yet, village atheists—as these godless freethinkers came to be known by the close of the nineteenth century—were also hailed for their gutsy dissent from stultifying pieties and for posing a necessary secularist challenge to majoritarian entanglements of church and state. Leigh Eric Schmidt rebuilds the history of American secularism from the ground up, giving flesh and blood to these outspoken infidels, including itinerant lecturer Samuel Porter Putnam; rough-edged cartoonist Watson Heston; convicted blasphemer Charles B. Reynolds; and atheist sex reformer Elmina D. Slenker. Village Atheists reveals how the secularist vision for the United States proved to be anything but triumphant and age-defining for a country where faith and citizenship were—and still are—routinely interwoven.”

Sheldon S. Wolin, Ed. By Nicholas Xenos, Fugitive Democracy and Other Essay. (Princeton University Press)                                                                                        

From the publisher: “Fugitive Democracy brings together [Sheldon S. Wollin’s] most important writings, from classic essays such as “Political Theory as a Vocation,” written amid the Cold War and the conflict in Vietnam, to his late radical essays on American democracy such as “Fugitive Democracy,” in which he offers a controversial reinterpretation of democracy as an episodic phenomenon distinct from the routinized political management that passes for democracy today. He critically engages a diverse range of political theorists, including Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, and Richard Rorty. These essays grapple with topics such as power, modernization, the sixties, revolutionary politics, and inequality, all the while showcasing Wolin’s enduring commitment to writing civic-minded theoretical commentary on the most pressing political issues of the day.”

An Yountae, The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins (Fordham University Press) 

From the publisher: “The Decolonial Abyss probes the ethico-political possibility harbored in Western philosophical and theological thought for addressing the collective experience of suffering, socio-political trauma, and colonial violence. In order to do so, it builds a constructive and coherent thematization of the somewhat obscurely defined and underexplored mystical figure of the abyss as it occurs in Neoplatonic mysticism, German Idealism, and Afro-Caribbean philosophy. The central question An Yountae raises is, How do we meditate the mystical abyss of theology/philosophy and the abyss of socio-political trauma engulfing the colonial subject? What would theopoetics look like in the context where poetics is the means of resistance and survival?”

Jason Blakely, Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and the Demise of Naturalism: Reunifying Political Theory and Social Science (The University of Notre Dame Press)

From the publisher: “Today the ethical and normative concerns of everyday citizens are all too often sidelined from the study of political and social issues, driven out by an effort to create a more ‘scientific’ study. This book offers a way for social scientists and political theorists to reintegrate the empirical and the normative, proposing a way out of the scientism that clouds our age. In Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and the Demise of Naturalism, Jason Blakely argues that the resources for overcoming this divide are found in the respective intellectual developments of Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre. Although MacIntyre and Taylor are not sui generis, Blakely claims they each present a new, revived humanism, one that insists on the creative agency of the human person against reductive, instrumental technocratic, and scientistic ways of thinking.”

November 2016

Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform (Harvard University Press)          

From the publisher: “Why do American ghettos persist? Scholars and commentators today often identify some factor—such as single motherhood, joblessness, or violent street crime—as the key to solving the problem and recommend policies accordingly. But, Tommie Shelby argues, these attempts to “fix” ghettos or “help” their poor inhabitants ignore fundamental questions of justice and fail to see the urban poor as moral agents responding to injustice. Drawing on liberal-egalitarian philosophy and informed by leading social science research, Dark Ghettos examines the thorny questions of political morality raised by ghettos.”

William Desmond, The Intimate Universal: The Hidden Porosity Among Religion, Art, Philosophy, and Politics (Columbia University Press)

From the publisher: “William Desmond sees religion, art, philosophy, and politics as essential and distinctive modes of human practice, manifestations of an intimate universality that illuminates individual and social being. They are also surprisingly permeable phenomena, and by observing their relations, Desmond captures notes of a clandestine conversation that transforms ontology.”

Walter A McDougall, The Tragedy of U.S. Foreign Policy: How America’s Civil Religion Betrayed the National Interest (Yale University Press)

From the publisher: “The first comprehensive study of the role played by civil religion in U.S. foreign relations over the entire course of the country’s history, McDougall’s book explores the deeply infused religious rhetoric that has sustained and driven an otherwise secular republic through peace, war, and global interventions for more than two hundred years. From the Founding Fathers and the crusade for independence to the Monroe Doctrine, through World Wars I and II and the decades-long Cold War campaign against “godless Communism,” this coruscating polemic reveals the unacknowledged but freely exercised dogmas of civil religion that bind together a “God blessed” America, sustaining the nation in its pursuit of an ever elusive global destiny.”

Michael Walzer, The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions (Yale University Press)

From the publisher: “In this thought-provoking reflection on religion and politics, eminent political theorist Michael Walzer examines the recent histories of India, Israel, and Algeria to explore why successful secular national liberation movements are so often challenged by militant religious revivals.”

George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, eds., Christianity, Democracy, and the Shadow of Constantine (Fordham University Press)

From the publisher: “The collapse of communism in eastern Europe has forced traditionally Eastern Orthodox countries to consider the relationship between Christianity and liberal democracy. Contributors examine the influence of Constantinianism in both the post-communist Orthodox world and in Western political theology. Constructive theological essays feature Catholic and Protestant theologians reflecting on the relationship between Christianity and democracy, as well as Orthodox theologians reflecting on their tradition’s relationship to liberal democracy.”

 December 2016

Olufemi Vaughan, Religion and the Making of Nigeria, (Duke University Press)

From the publisher: “In Religion and the Making of Nigeria Olufemi Vaughan examines how Christian, Muslim, and indigenous religious structures have provided the essential social and ideological frameworks for the construction of contemporary Nigeria. Using a wealth of archival sources Vaughan traces the nation’s social, religious, and political history from the early nineteenth century to the present. Following Nigeria’s independence the Christian-Muslim tensions became manifest in regional conflicts over the expansion of sharia, the centralization of government, requests for the state’s resources, and the rise of Boko Haram. These tensions are not simply conflicts over religious beliefs, ethnicity, or regionalism; they represent structural imbalances founded on the religious distinctions forged under colonial rule.”

Michael Cook, Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press)

From the Publisher: “Why does Islam play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? Is there something about the Islamic heritage that makes Muslims more likely than adherents of other faiths to invoke it in their political life? If so, what is it? Ancient Religions, Modern Politics seeks to answer these questions by examining the roles of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity in modern political life, placing special emphasis on the relevance—or irrelevance—of their heritages to today’s social and political concerns.”

January 2017

Nelson Tebbe, Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age (Harvard University Press)  

From the publisher: “Tensions between religious freedom and equality law are newly strained in America. As lawmakers work to protect LGBT citizens and women seeking reproductive freedom, religious traditionalists assert their right to dissent from what they see as a new liberal orthodoxy. In Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age, [Nelson Tebbe] advances a method called social coherence, based on the way that people reason through moral problems in everyday life. Applying this method to a range of real-world cases, Tebbe offers a set of powerful principles for mediating between religion and equality law, and he shows how they can lead to workable solutions in areas ranging from employment discrimination and public accommodations to government officials and public funding.”

Laure Guirguis, Copts and the Security State: Violence, Coercion, and Sectarianism in Contemporary Egypt (Stanford University Press)

From the publisher: “Copts and the Security State combines political, anthropological, and social history to analyze the practices of the Egyptian state and the political acts of the Egyptian Coptic minority. Laure Guirguis considers how the state, through its subjugation of Coptic citizens, reproduces a political order based on religious identity and difference. The leadership of the Coptic Church, in turn, has taken more political stances, thus foreclosing opportunities for secularization or common ground. In each instance, the underlying logics of authoritarianism and sectarianism articulate a fear of the Other, and, as Guirguis argues, are ultimately put to use to justify the expanding Egyptian security state.”

Benjamin N. Lawrance and Jacqueline Stevens, eds., Citizenship in Question: Evidentiary Birthright and Statelessness (Duke University Press)                                              

From the publisher: “Citizenship is often assumed to be a clear cut issue—either one has it—or one does not. However, as the contributors to Citizenship in Question demonstrate, citizenship is not self-evident; it emerges from often obscure written records and is interpreted through ambiguous and dynamic laws. In case studies that analyze the legal barriers to citizenship rights in over twenty countries, the contributors explore how states use evidentiary requirements to create and police citizenship, often based on fictions of racial, ethnic, class, and religious differences.”

William Clare Roberts, Marx’s Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital (Princeton University Press)

From the publisher: “Marx’s Inferno reconstructs the major arguments of Karl Marx’s Capital and inaugurates a completely new reading of a seminal classic. Placing Marx against the background of nineteenth-century socialism, Roberts shows how Capital was ingeniously modeled on Dante’s Inferno, and how Marx, playing the role of Virgil for the proletariat, introduced partisans of workers’ emancipation to the secret depths of the modern “social Hell.” Combining research on Marx’s interlocutors, textual scholarship, and forays into recent debates, Roberts traces the continuities linking Marx’s theory of capitalism to the tradition of republican political thought.”

Jared Giesbrecht, Network Democracy: Conservative Politics and the Violence of the Liberal Age (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

From the publisher: “Network Democracy uses the contemporary tools of ecology and network thinking to unearth the ancient, intellectual ruins of traditional conservative thought. Questioning the West’s veneration of freedom, equality, contractual citizenship, economic progress, cosmopolitanism, secular institutionalism, and reason, Jared Giesbrecht illuminates how these ideals fuel violence and insecurity in our high-speed lives. This book offers not only a poignant critique, but a constructive and peaceable alternative to the violence of both liberalism and reactionary anti-liberalism. Attuned to the new realities of globalization, advanced technology, and social acceleration, Network Democracy is a masterful hybrid of ancient and cutting-edge political philosophy that casts a new light on the values underlying western civilization.”

 2016 Books with Unlisted Months

Ed. by W. Cole Durham, Jr. and Donlu D. Thayer, Religion and Equality: Law in Conflict (Routledge Press)

From the publisher: “This volume presents an analysis of controversial events and issues shaping a rapidly changing international legal, political, and social landscape. Leading scholars and experts in law, religious studies and international relations, thoughtfully consider issues and tensions arising in contemporary debates over religion and equality in many parts of the world. The first section focuses on the anti-discrimination dimension of religious freedom norms, examining the developing law on equality and human rights and how it operates at international and national levels. The second section provides a series of case studies exploring the contemporary issue of same-sex marriage and how it affects religious groups and believers.”

Ed. by Kyriaki Topidi and Lauren Fielder, Religion as Empowerment: Global Legal Perspectives (Routledge Press)

From the publisher: “This volume shows how and why legal empowerment is important for those exercising their religious rights under various jurisdictions, in conditions of legal pluralism. At the same time, it also questions the thesis that as societies become more modern, they also become less religious. The authors look beyond the rule of law orthodoxy in their consideration of the freedom of religion as a human right and place this discussion in a more plurality-sensitive context. The focus is on discussing how religion and the exercise of religious rights may or may not empower individuals and social groups and improve access to human rights in general.”

Ed. by Nadjma Yassari, Changing God’s Law: The Dynamics of Middle Eastern Family Law (Routledge Press)

From the publisher: “This volume identifies and elaborates on the significance and functions of the various actors involved in the development of family law in the Middle East. Besides the importance of family law regulations for each individual, family law has become the battleground of political and social contestation. Including contributions from leading authors of Middle Eastern law, this timely volume brings together many isolated aspects of legal development and offers a comprehensive picture on this topical subject.”

Russell Powell, Shari’a in the Secular State: Evolving Meanings of Islamic Jurisprudence in Turkey (Routledge Press)                                                                                                                          From the publisher: “Words in both law and religion can shape power relationships and are often highly disputed. Shari’a lies within the overlap of these two spheres and provides a unique subject for the study of meaning in that liminal space. This book contributes important insights related to Islamic jurisprudence and secularism in the Turkish context and regarding the role of language in contested legal and religious contexts.”

Sean Desilets, Hermeneutic Humility and the Political Theology of Cinema (Routledge Press)            

From the publisher: “This book revisits the tradition of Western religious cinema in light of scholarship on St. Paul’s political theology. In imitation of Paul, the films on which Sean Desilets’s analysis hinges (including those of Carl-Th. Dreyer, Robert Bresson, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Carlos Reygadas) place a god-blind mechanism, the camera, between themselves and the divine. Though these films may not consciously reflect Pauline theology, Desilets argues that they participate in a messianic-hermeneutic tradition that runs from Paul through St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Karl Barth, and Walter Benjamin, and which contributes significantly to contemporary discussions in poststructuralist literary theory, political theology, and religious studies.”

Anne Stensvold, Religion, State and the United Nations: Value Politics (Routledge Press)            

From the publisher: “Over the last two decades religion has acquired increasing influence in international politics, and religious violence and terrorism has attracted much scholarly attention. But there is another parallel development which has gone largely unnoticed, namely the increasing political impact of peaceful religious actors. With several religious actors in one place and interacting under the same conditions, the UN is as a multi-religious society writ small. The contributors to this book analyze the most influential religious actors at the UN (including The Roman Catholic Church; The Organization of Islamic Countries; the Russian Orthodox Church).”

W. Cole Durham and Donlu Thayer, eds., Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference (Routledge Press)                                                                    

From the publisher: “Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference brings together vital and thoughtful contributions treating aspects of mounting worldwide tensions concerning the relationship between religious diversity and social harmony. Religious pluralism can contribute to tensions in employment, media coverage of religion, and public life generally. Experts from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East address these issues and suggest not only how social institutions can reduce tensions, but also how religious pluralism itself can bolster needed civil society.”

Andrew Fiala, Secular Cosmopolitanism, Hospitality, and Religious Pluralism (Routledge Press)      

From the publisher: “This book explores the idea of religious pluralism, including the emergence of nonreligion, and defends the norms of secular cosmopolitanism that allow pluralism to thrive. A central feature of secular cosmopolitanism is the idea of religious liberty and the complementary ideas of tolerance, civility, and hospitality. Fiala argues that the presence of religious diversity, including nonbelief, pushes us toward secularism and vice versa. Some have denied that the modern world is necessarily heading in a secular direction, fearing remaining clashes of civilization and reactionary fundamentalism. But the cure for religious fundamentalism is not atheism or anti-religious activism—rather, the cure is a robust, tolerant, and civil secularism with cosmopolitan reach.”

Y.T. Vinayaraj, Dalit Theology after Continental Philosophy (Palgrave Macmillan Press)            

From the publisher: “This book, steeped in the traditions of both postcolonial theory and Continental philosophy, addresses fundamental questions about God and theology in the postcolonial world. Namely, Y.T. Vinayaraj asks whether Continental philosophies of God and the ‘other’ can attend to the struggles that entail human pain and suffering in the postcolonial context. Engaging with the post-Continental philosophers of immanence such as Gilles Deleuze, Giorgio Agamben, Catherine Malabou, and Jean-Luc Nancy, Vinayaraj explores the idea of a Dalit theology of God and body in the post-Continental context.”

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