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Secular Imperatives?

Secular Imperatives? Saba Mahmood I hesitated to respond to Stathis Gourgouris’s riposte because of its dramatic and consistent misreading of my argument in “Secularism, Hermeneutics, and Empire.” His vitriolic tone undercuts critical exchange and makes it impossible to offer anything but a defensive response. Furthermore, it exemplifies the kind of blackmail — one is either for or against secularism — that was my object of concern in the earlier post and that I think carries great analytic and political costs. That said, and perhaps despite my better judgment, let me see if I can elaborate why this kind of thinking is inimical to the development of an analytic language about what constitutes secularism, secularity, and the secular in our present world. First, a few remarks on Gourgouris’s repeated use of the term antisecular to describe and dismiss my argument. This gesture, of course, invites a simple counterresponse: “No, I am not antisecular” or “Yes, I am.” Such a framing fails to address the complicated set of questions that the symposium “Is Critique Secular?” opened up to reflection and that I alluded to in my earlier riposte. Calls for the embrace (or, for that matter, the rejection) of secularism are often http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Public Culture Duke University Press

Secular Imperatives?

Public Culture , Volume 20 (3) – Oct 1, 2008

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2008 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0899-2363
eISSN
0899-2363
DOI
10.1215/08992363-2008-006
Publisher site
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Abstract

Saba Mahmood I hesitated to respond to Stathis Gourgouris’s riposte because of its dramatic and consistent misreading of my argument in “Secularism, Hermeneutics, and Empire.” His vitriolic tone undercuts critical exchange and makes it impossible to offer anything but a defensive response. Furthermore, it exemplifies the kind of blackmail — one is either for or against secularism — that was my object of concern in the earlier post and that I think carries great analytic and political costs. That said, and perhaps despite my better judgment, let me see if I can elaborate why this kind of thinking is inimical to the development of an analytic language about what constitutes secularism, secularity, and the secular in our present world. First, a few remarks on Gourgouris’s repeated use of the term antisecular to describe and dismiss my argument. This gesture, of course, invites a simple counterresponse: “No, I am not antisecular” or “Yes, I am.” Such a framing fails to address the complicated set of questions that the symposium “Is Critique Secular?” opened up to reflection and that I alluded to in my earlier riposte. Calls for the embrace (or, for that matter, the rejection) of secularism are often

Journal

Public CultureDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2008

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