Secular power, law and the politics of religious sentiments

Critical Research on Religion 3 (1):57-71 (2015)
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Abstract

This paper undertakes a political sociology of religious sentiments by examining how social actors seek to make their religious sentiments legible and authoritative within structures of modern state governance. It argues that a central dimension of religious politics consists of struggles over constituting hegemonic and common sense religious sentiments through drawing on the secular powers of the modern state. This politics entails contestations over how citizens ought to feel, and how the state ought to authorize certain religious sentiments, with respect to socially resonant religious issues and events. Drawing on concrete historical episodes from colonial India and postcolonial Pakistan that allow a problematization of ‘religious sentiments of Muslims' in relation to the controversial religious views of the reformist Ahmadiyya movement, this paper further demonstrates the elasticity of the modern state to accommodate and embed a range of religious sensibilities, affects and emotive responses through legal arguments about public order.

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