Secularization Revisited: A Reply to Talal Asad

Author: José Casanova

January 4, 2006

In this chapter from a book of commentaries on the work of Talal Asad, Professor Casanova replies to Asad's critique of Casanova's reformulation of the theory of secularization. While admitting some of Asad's critiques as valid, Casanova disagrees with some of Asad's reading of his work and takes the opportunity to clarify and contextualize some of his own earlier writings. He then delves into the different secularizations of the Muslim and Catholic traditions, examining how each has been implemented (fragmented vs. hierarchical) and the struggles each faces in dealing with key aspects of "modernity," such as the inviolability of individual consciences, the modern liberal/secular state, and democracy. Ultimately, Casanova concludes that "Asad's Formations of the Secular offers a much more helpful analytical approach" to researchers than the original secularization thesis. This chapter was published in Powers of the Secular Modern: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors (2006, eds. David Scott and Charles Hirschkind).

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