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Secularism and Cosmopolitanism


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Table of Contents

Introduction. Critique in the Twenty-First Century: Political Economy Still, Religion Again
Part I: Saeculum
1. Circumstances and Objectives
2. Secularism and Cosmopolitanism: An Aporia?
3. Double Binds: Politics of the Veil
4. Cosmo-Politics and Conflicts between Universalities
5. Finishing with Religion?
6. Culture, Religion, or Ideology
7. Religious Revolutions and Anthropological Differences
8. Secularism Secularized: The Vanishing Mediator
9. Envoi
Part II: Essays
10. Note on the Origins and Uses of "Monotheism"
11. "God Will Not Remain Silent". Zionism, Messianism, and Nationalism
12. What Future for Laicite?
Part III: Statements
13. Three Words for the Dead and the Living (after Charlie Hebdo)
14. On "Freedom of Expression" and the Question of "Blasphemy"
15. Identitarian Laicite

About the Author

Etienne Balibar is emeritus professor of philosophy at Paris X Nanterre and emeritus professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is also professor of modern European philosophy at Kingston University, London, and professor of French and comparative literature at Columbia University. His books include Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Philosophy (Columbia, 2015).


One of our best European activist philosophers here considers the question of secularism, religion, and cosmopolitanism in a broad range: Islam, the historical contradictions of secularism in the Israeli state, the implications of French laicite, the history of the term 'monotheism' from European antiquity, and serious considerations of gender at every step. 'Generalized heresy as philosophical fiction' is, for Balibar, our persistent, repeated, heterogeneous, and collective political task of invention. Those of us trying to work away from the Abrahamic and toward the rural subaltern electorate find in Balibar a powerful ally. -- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of Death of a Discipline and Other Asias
Secularism and Cosmopolitanism is the textual equivalent of a rich ongoing seminar with one of our most erudite, astute living philosophers. In writings spanning more than a decade, Balibar opens rather than stipulates the meanings of religion, secularism, and laicite as well as those of universalism and multiculturalism. From the veil controversy to the Charlie Hebdo bombing, from reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau to reading Joan Scott, Balibar teaches us not what to think about contemporary religious-secular conflicts in Europe, but how. -- Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley
Over the years Etienne Balibar has perfected a style of polemic both so ruthless and so sweet that his antagonists-whether postsecularism or "official" secularism, whether the champions of biopolitics or of euroskepticism-are still smiling even as their heads are separated from their bodies, and will often keep smiling as they lie lifeless on the ground. A revolutionary for our times, a revolutionary without slogans, Balibar brings all of philosophy's resources to bear on the conceptual challenges buried in today's news, and tomorrow's. The concepts he has inspected and re-thought with his signature rigor are fresh and ready for action. -- Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
Etienne Balibar has been one of the world's leading political philosophers for the last several decades and has had an enormous impact around questions concerning the relation among notions of individuality, selfhood, and state sovereignty in the modern era. Secularism and Cosmopolitanism is a short but trenchant book by an important thinker on a vital topic. -- William Egginton, Johns Hopkins University
Baliber's writing on religion and politics contains remarkable insights for scholars working on secular ethics and contemporary religious quarrels. * Publishers Weekly *
Balibar is therefore still an Enlightenment thinker, even if a chastened one. He sees our problems clearly and diagnoses them with vigor. * Commonweal *
...a vital read, both challenging and probing, and one which we can all benefit from. -- Lewis George Bloodworth * Marx and Philosophy Review of Books *

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