Secularity, Religion, and the Spatialization of Time

Secularity, Religion, and the Spatialization of Time Abstract Although “secularity” is often contrasted with “religion” as though the distinction between them bisected society, sorting practices and people into competing kinds, their relation is better understood as analogous to that between a frame and what is framed by it: secularity so conceived is not simply the inverse, negative space of religion but the epistemic regime that enables us to speak of “religion” in the first place, as a particular object of modern interest and anxiety. Secularity, I contend, can be understood temporally as that time in which religion occupies space. This paper draws upon Walter Benjamin’s concept of “Messianic time” to gain critical leverage on the temporal horizons of the nation-state and the neoliberal market. Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it, contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctified (apparently unlike time . . . which was detached from the sacred in the nineteenth century). . . . And perhaps our life is still governed by a certain number of oppositions that remain inviolable, that our institutions and practices have not yet dared to break down. These are oppositions that we regard as simple givens: for example between private space and public space, between family space and social space, between cultural space and useful space, between the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred. —Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces” [W]hat is this “now” of modernity? Who defines this present from which we speak? This leads to a more challenging question: what is the desire of this repeated demand to modernize? Why does it insist, so compulsively, on its contemporaneous reality, its spatial dimension, its spectatorial distance? —Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture When you talk about time—it is always political. —Marginale in a used copy of Brenda Hillman, Cascadia ONE OF THE CHALLENGES of narrating the history of secularization is that such an enterprise presupposes the standpoint of a secular conception of history. The reasons for this, I shall argue, are twofold: first, secularization can be understood as involving most fundamentally a shift in how human beings understand and inhabit time, and this shift is what enables history in its contemporary sense. The second reason is related to the first, though the nature of this relation will require some clarification: secularity as a mode of temporality provides the context in which it becomes possible to speak of religion as a social sphere. To examine secularity historically is thus to inquire into the conditions of history’s own possibility. But just for this reason it can be difficult to achieve the appropriate critical distance from our topic and to take its full measure. In what follows I shall offer some remarks on the background conditions that make possible contemporary discussions of religion and its fate in modernity. The discussions I have in mind here are not limited to the academy, although they circulate through it. Daniel Dubuisson has argued that the concept of religion is “the West’s most characteristic concept, around which it has established and developed its identity, while at the same time defining its way of conceiving humankind and the world” (Dubuisson 2003, 9). Religion is always near the top of the cultural agenda, and even those who position themselves against it cannot seem to stop talking about it. CONSTRUCTIONS OF THE SECULAR At the most general level, the claim I want to advance here is that it was partly through the construction of the modern category of religion that secularity constituted itself. “Religion,” I want to argue, is a secular category—a constitutive feature of the modern Western social imaginary. Whereas the general trajectory of contemporary research on secularization (at least within the humanities) increasingly recognizes that secularity had to be constructed (and is not simply the residual baseline that emerges into view when the tide of religion recedes), my argument is that this was achieved in crucial part by imagining a “religious sphere.” It is important to my argument that secularity in the primary sense in which I shall be exploring the concept occupies a hegemonic position vis-à-vis religion; though constructed, it is the more or less invisible background in relation to which religion is singled out as a special sort of phenomenon.1 In somewhat the way that “whiteness” is naturalized as normative and largely invisible by foregrounding the putative problem of “racial difference,” secularity constructs itself as the neutral frame of reference for discussions of religion.2 In addition to this basic sense, there is of course another sense of the term “secularity,” according to which it is viewed as in zero-sum competition with religion: secularity as the absence of religion. Indeed, this latter sense is probably the more familiar of the two. Secularity so conceived is that which is thought to be encroaching upon religion, and which is variously viewed as threat or liberation. But such a view presupposes what I shall call a secular framing. Insofar as the secular is seen as religion’s other—as not-religion—we have adopted, as it were, a secular account of secularity. Secularity is thus constructed in two senses: first as a category adjacent to and morphologically inverse to that of “religion,” occupying the space left vacant by the latter; and second as a privileged epistemological standpoint. Recognizing these two different senses is important for a proper appreciation of the politics surrounding religion. Religion—that is, the institutions, practices, and communities so classified—is in many quarters strong, and “secularists” are often concerned by the power religion exerts in the public sphere; but this very configuration of the social world implies the dominance of a secular regime of knowledge, since it is within the latter that the clash between religion and its other(s) can be framed as such. These two different senses of “secularity” are of course related, but it is important to recognize that one need not be a secularist to be secular in the epistemological sense. Indeed, to advocate on behalf of “religion” is a distinctively secular endeavor. It is the latter framing—the secular regime of knowledge—that I shall be primarily concerned with here. I am interested, that is to say, with secularization in a very particular sense—namely, with the emergence of the conditions necessary to raise debates about the “place” of religion in contemporary life. Religion is today commonly viewed as occupying space. This is true popularly, as well as in scholarly literature, such as Kim Knott’s interesting and thought-provoking work on the “location of religion”: “Religion, which is inherently social, must also exist and express itself in and through space. Moreover,” Knott writes, “it plays its part in the production and reproduction of social space. Transnational religious communities, for example, root themselves in national contexts and in a variety of local places” (Knott 2005, 159). Space, on this account, is neither a formal grid of coordinates, nor an ontological structure, nor a pure form of sensible intuition (as Kant had it), but “a mental or conceptual dimension, one which may float free of any physical mooring, but . . . may provide a means of imagining and giving expression to human possibility, cultural difference, the imagination itself, as well as social relations” (Knott 2005, 159). Even when space is not explicitly theorized, the study of religion is rife with spatial metaphors (“insiders” versus “outsiders,” “public” versus “private”) and there have been numerous attempts to “map” the “religious landscape” and geographical distribution of the world’s religions. Theories of secularization often make use of these same spatial metaphors: religion is said to be “losing ground,” to be undergoing differentiation into a distinct “sphere,” or to be becoming “privatized.” Indeed, an early usage of “secularization” was overtly spatial and referred to the movement of goods and people outside the cloister. Thus, a “secular” priest was one who worked in a diocese, rather than belonging to a monastic order. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the term “secularization” came to be used in reference to the expropriation of ecclesial property by the state. Nevertheless, the secular was not hostile to “religion” per se. On the contrary, the distinction between cloister and world was itself what today we would call a “religious” one—bisecting, rather than circumscribing, Christendom—and it drew in turn upon an earlier, more basic understanding of what the secular is, which had to do not with space but with time. A more specific aim of this paper is thus to try to better understand the spatio-temporal order on which secularity as a regime of knowledge depends. I shall argue that it emerges through, inter alia, the intersection of two related trends—the collapse of the idea of sacramentally mediated time, on the one hand, and the spatialization of religion, on the other. THE COLLAPSE OF SACRAMENTAL TIME In medieval Latin, the term saeculum meant “century” or “age,” and it referred to the “temporal” domain of earthly time, in contrast to the eternal “age” of God, which Augustine had classically described as “a never-ending present” (Augustine 1961, 263). The former “time” was not the autonomous realm of history as we understand it today—an “immanent frame” of causal relations—but the interval between fall and eschaton: its character derived from its relation to the latter “time.” The Church—understood as both visible and invisible—straddled the distinction between these two “times,” mediating it sacramentally. The secular, we might say, was bounded and encased by the eternal, on which it depended for its significance. The configuration of secular time within eternity made possible a sense of the trans-temporal “simultaneity” of significant events that were not causally adjacent. As Erich Auerbach has noted, such an understanding is what underwrote “figural interpretations” of biblical texts, in which an “earlier” event was said to anticipate a “later” one, which constituted its fulfillment: For example, if an occurrence like the sacrifice of Isaac is interpreted as prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ, so that in the former the latter is as it were announced and promised, and the latter “fulfills” . . . the former, then a connection is established between two events which are linked neither temporally nor causally—a connection that is impossible to establish by reason in the horizontal dimension (if I may be permitted to use this term for a temporal extension). It can be established only if both occurrences are vertically linked to Divine Providence, which alone is able to devise such a plan of history and supply the key to its understanding. The horizontal, that is the temporal and causal, connection of occurrences is dissolved; the here and now is no longer a mere link in an earthly chain of events, it is simultaneously something which has always been, and which will be fulfilled in the future; and strictly, in the eyes of God, it is something eternal, something omni-temporal. . . (Auerbach 1955, 73–74) The eternal “now” of God’s perspective was what allowed for the gathering together of (efficiently) causally discrete moments of secular time into what Charles Taylor calls “kairotic knots” (Taylor 2007, 54). These “higher times” introduced (what we are apt to see as) a warping, kinking, and compression of the temporal order: “Events which were far apart in profane time could nevertheless be closely linked” (Taylor 2007, 55). Just as medieval maps tended to be less concerned with geometrical relations than with relations of meaning, so the function of the Church’s liturgical calendar was not simply to enable time-keeping in the sense with which we are today familiar, but to provide the hermeneutical key for understanding the unfolding of salvation in secular time. Christian thinking about time drew on the Hellenic distinction between chronos and kairos but joined these with biblical narrativity to yield important transformations in how these terms were understood. Whereas classical conceptions of time tended to circle back on a time of origins, the Christian calendar opened toward the future.3 “Platonic melancholic archaism that desires to return to eternity, which is conceived as the origin of time, is replaced by the desire to participate in the eschaton in the fullness of the ages, at the exact moment when all will be recapitulated in Christ and a new age of eternality will open” (Lesham 2016, 48). This eschatological future was not the causal outcome of historical progress in the modern sense, and its diremptive relation to chronological time allowed the eschatological future to interrupt the present in moments of kairotic exception. Contrasting the Christian cosmology with the Platonic, in which the distinction between the world and the eternal realm of forms is represented in spatial terms, Dotan Leshem writes: In Christian thought the exception is no longer of a spatial order; it is an exception that takes place in time that became rectilinear. What appears in the crucial moments that constitute Christian history is an exception from the “monochronic” linearity of time in which the future age to come is made present. It is, first and foremost, a “breach” or a “transgression” of the temporal, not the spatial, order of things. (Lesham 2016, 48) Since the difference between the present and the eschatological future was not a matter of quantitative distance in time, the latter could contribute to the qualitative texture of what came to be thought of as Heilsgeschichte. As Reinhart Koselleck puts it: “The Church integrates the future as the possible End of the World within its organization of time; it is not placed at the end point of time in a strictly linear fashion. The end of time can be experienced only because it is always already sublimated in the Church. The history of the Church remains the history of salvation so long as this condition held” (Koselleck 2004, 13). For Christian medievals, as José Casanova has pointed out, there were really three “times,” not two—“the eternal age of God and the temporal-historical age, which is itself divided into the sacred-spiritual time of salvation, represented by the church’s calendar, and the secular age proper (saeculum)” (Casanova 1994, 14). What was largely lost in the development of modernity was not the distinction between time and eternity per se—though it is important to note an accompanying shift in the conceptualizing of eternity from “never-ending present” to infinite duration—but rather the necessary linkage of secular time to eternity, the zone of overlap made possible through the sacramental mediation of the Church.4 As Hans Frei showed, these developments were connected with an important shift in the understanding of the Bible as scripture. On Frei’s telling, earlier generations of Christians had placed their experience of the world within a biblical narrative, but post-Enlightenment people, including Christians, increasingly brought the biblical narrative within their own experience, which seemed more primary and “real” than did the narrative itself. The Bible came to be viewed as something other than history, and history came to be viewed as independent of the biblical narrative—something to be understood entirely on its own terms. This is not to say that Enlightenment-era theologians necessarily viewed the Bible as false. On the contrary, they tended to see the Bible as confirming history, or historical evidence as confirming biblical narratives. The point, though, is that they saw these two domains as essentially distinct: history can be understood apart from the Bible, even if some of what the Bible says actually happened. According to this Enlightenment view, Frei writes: The real events of history constitute an autonomous temporal framework of their own under God’s providential design. Instead of rendering them accessible, the narratives, heretofore indispensable as means of access to the events, now simply verify them, thus affirming their autonomy and the fact that they are in principle accessible through any kind of description that can manage to be accurate either predictively or after the event. It simply happens that, again under God’s providence, it is the Bible that contains the accurate descriptions. There is now a logical distinction and a reflective distance between the stories and the “reality” they depict. The depicted biblical world and the real historical world began to be separated at once in thought and in sensibility, no matter whether the depiction was thought to agree with reality or disagree with it. (Frei 1974, 4–5) As a result of this shift, Frei argues, the narrative elements of the Bible—the sense that it tells one big, ongoing story—tended to drop out of view, and efforts had to be made to try to bring the Bible into some sort of relation with Christians’ experience of the world, which was now independent of that narrative. Excluded from the middle ground of sacramental/hermeneutical mediation, the Bible had, as it were, to be shifted into the eternal if it was not to be claimed by the historical. The result was that theologians began either to treat the Bible as containing timeless moral truths or to approach it from a critical-historical perspective. New epistemological frameworks, independent from ecclesial authority, in which the Bible itself could be made an object of inquiry, were enabled by what we might here call the “secularization” of secular time. The conceptual detachment of secular time from anything “higher” seemed to dissolve Taylor’s “kairotic knots” into the smooth, even flow of chronology. “What has come to take the place of the mediaeval conception of simultaneity-along-time,” Benedict Anderson has argued, is a doctrine of time “in which simultaneity is, as it were, transverse, cross-time, marked not by prefiguring and fulfillment, but by temporal coincidence, and measured by clock and calendar” (Anderson 1991, 24). This is the view of time to which Walter Benjamin famously alluded when he wrote that “the concept of the historical progress of mankind cannot be sundered from the concept of its progression through a homogeneous, empty time” (Benjamin 1968, 261). On the modern view, time “has become a container, indifferent to what fills it” (Taylor 2007, 58). So conceived, history was rendered a purely immanent mode of temporality, capable of being exhaustively accounted for in terms of horizontal (efficient) causation. THE SPATIALIZATION OF RELIGION This flattening and standardization of time allowed for the development of the modern category of “religion.” Having been effectively denied any meaningful contrast case in a comprehensive scheme of temporal relations, the term “secular” was not retired but rather given new quasi-spatial employments. On the modern view, the secular came to be seen as an autonomous realm, not of time but of space, characterized principally by political activity and economic exchange, which had been “emancipated” from control by the church. Despite superficial similarities, this was not the earlier distinction between world and cloister: that distinction had its life within a universe of ideas that was now seen as belonging to secularity’s contrast case, religion. Moreover, the earlier appeal to spatial dimensions was essentially metaphorical: a secular priest, for example, was not simply “outside” the cloister but living his vocation within the temporal order.5 But whereas the earlier spatial metaphors only made sense within an understanding of time as penetrated by eternity, the modern view of secularity makes space primary. The relevant contrast is not with the eternal or with “higher times,” but with the religious as a discrete sphere, which, like “politics” and “the market,” was newly imagined as possessing an autonomous essence. The pervasiveness of spatial language makes it easy to suppose that these spheres, though once entangled, were always analytically distinct, as is implied by the language of “emancipation.” Like a nation retreating from an ill-advised imperial adventure, religion is here portrayed as withdrawing into the space defined by its proper borders. “Let us go a little further,” Louis Dumont suggests: “medieval religion was a great cloak—I am thinking of the Mantle of Our Lady of Mercy. Once it became an individual affair it lost its all-embracing capacity and became one among other apparently equal considerations, of which the political was the first born” (Dumont, quoted in Asad 1993, 28). But as Talal Asad, commenting on Dumont’s view, has pointed out, “the insistence that religion has an autonomous essence”—a sphere all its own—is the product of discursive shifts in the term’s usage, the appreciation of which cautions against anachronistically projecting our present imaginary backward on history (Asad 1993, 28). “Religion” in its modern, bounded sense is “a modern Western norm, the product of a unique post-Reformation history,” and not a universal essence (Asad 1993, 28). In other words, it is not simply that the forms and/or boundaries of religion have changed over time; so too has the meaning of the term itself. In the ancient Roman world, religio referred to binding obligations, including but not limited to cultic rites. According to Cicero, as Dubuisson notes, “a religious mind is one that scrupulously follows traditional rules (for example, on the occasion of consular elections), in particular by submitting to the science of augurs and soothsayers, because, he says, if there are interpreters of omens, it is sure proof that the gods exist” (Dubuisson 2003, 15). In the fourth century, Augustine used the word “religion” to mean piety or worship, but as William Cavanaugh points out, by the middle ages that usage too had largely been replaced. For the scholastics, the distinction between the secular and the religious marked the difference noted earlier between diocesan priests and priests in orders. However, in none of these contexts, as Cavanaugh observes, did the term refer to a discrete sphere of life, to belief systems, to inward states, or to a genus of which the world religions are species (Cavanaugh 2009, 65–67). These latter understandings are characteristic of Western, post-Enlightenment thought, but the conditions that made them possible emerged earlier and included, importantly, both new ideas about time and new spatial vistas. Guy Stroumsa writes: “Together with the discovery of the New World, the discovery of chronology, of the parallel histories of ancient civilizations, permitted a hitherto unknown conception of the unity of humankind. Beyond the multiple forms of religion, including the most barbarian forms of idolatry, such as the human sacrifices practiced by some American peoples, all religions reflected the unity of humankind” (Stroumsa 2010, 7). The new unitary and progressive account of time that emerged out of the collapse of the church’s sacramental mediation made it possible to view religion as a human universal, even as it served to relativize Christianity.6 Though a distinctively Western category, “religion” thus came to name a purportedly global reality. The invention of religion in its modern, quasi-sociological sense coincided with the rise of nation-states. As Timothy Fitzgerald has pointed out, the modern discourse of religion functions partly as a containment strategy, clearing space within Western (or Westernized) societies for the “rationality” of markets and allowing states to monopolize sovereignty (Fitzgerald 2000, 5). Having been constructed as something pertaining to a spiritual realm of “faith,” religion is depoliticized, while institutions conceived of as “secular” come to be understood as natural and universal. The privatization of so-called “religious” attachments and their representation as optional make possible the emergence of the abstract citizen, whose primary loyalty belongs to the state. Moreover, the liberal state’s legitimacy rests in part on its claim to be able to manage religion: as Cavanaugh and Mahmood Mamdani have pointed out, “religious violence”—conceived of as irrational and disconnected from the narratives of historical progress by means of which political violence tends to be justified—both deflects attention from, and justifies, state violence (See Cavanaugh 2009 and Mamdani 2004). Wedded to an ideology of secularization as modernization, the discourse of religion has also functioned historically as a constituent feature of the understandings by which “the West” constructed itself over against the rest. Tomoko Masuzawa writes: “When religion came to be identified as such—that is, more or less in the same sense that we think of it today—it came to be recognized above all as something that, in the opinions of many self-consciously modern Europeans, was in the process of disappearing from their midst, or if not altogether disappearing, becoming circumscribed in such a way that it was finally discernible as a distinct, and limited, phenomenon” (Masuzawa 2005, 19). Conceived of as belonging to an earlier stage of social evolution, religion was what characterized those outside the Western dispensation, such as its colonial subjects, as well as those within Europe’s presumptive geographical borders who were perceived as remaining stuck in the past or were deemed unassimilable. But it is too simplistic to view the discourse of religion as a “discourse of othering.” Running alongside the former is a discourse of assimilation, which valorizes religion as a reservoir of social cohesion, meaning, and morality. Whereas for the otherizing discourse, the Orientalist representation of Islam provides the paradigm of religion, in the more celebratory account the paradigm is an idealized form of liberal Protestant Christianity. If the former is represented as antagonistic to the secular, the latter is its fraternal twin, having developed in tandem with it. Up through the mid-nineteenth century, Masuzawa writes, Europeans “had a well-established convention for categorizing the peoples of the world into four parts, rather unequal in size and uneven in specificity, namely Christians, Jews, Mohammedans (as Muslims were commonly called then), and the rest. This last part, the rest, comprised those variously known as heathens, pagans, idolaters, or sometimes polytheists” (Masuzawa 2005, xi). However, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the displacement of this hierarchical taxonomy by a flatter, apparently more inclusive paradigm—that of the so-called “world religions.” The appeal of this assimilationist discourse derived in part from its ability to secure the validity of Christianity against the perceived threat of encroaching secularity. Although the differentiation of society into discrete and autonomous spheres had decisively broken the cultural hegemony of the church, it also granted religion a protected space of its own. As Asad notes, the new concept of religion as a distinct and properly private sphere “is at once part of a strategy (for secular liberals) of the confinement, and (for liberal Christians) of the defense of religion” (Asad 1993, 28). For late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theologians, insistence on the universality of religion and its irreducibility served an apologetic function; Christianity was no longer the world religion, but it was a world religion, a member of an elite class whose value to civilization warranted special protections by the state. MODERN TIMES It is clear that the development of the category of religion was coextensive with the development not simply of the concept of secularity as what religion is not—that is, the state, the economy—but of secularity as a regime of knowledge and power. The conception of religion and secularity as dimensions of space—for example, the public sphere; the notion of secularity as encroaching on religion, or of the latter as ceding ground to the former—are distinctively secular notions. By invoking secularity twice—as that which is counterposed to religion, as well as the context that makes possible this very framing—I hope to call attention to a pervasive and otherwise largely invisible feature of a certain modern present. This latter sense of the secular is not one that can be contrasted with the religious. After all, the distinction between the secular and the religious belongs to the secular view itself. The fact that we have no obvious antonym for the epistemic meaning of the secular attests to just how ubiquitous and hegemonic this frame of reference has become. What would it mean to put this secular framing in question—to make it an object, rather than simply the context, of analysis? The emergent field of “secular studies” aspires to do just this, but it is limited by virtue of the fact that it too operates from the unquestioned standpoint of the secular episteme. It is often easier to get a critical grasp on an otherwise naturalized outlook by historicizing it, but our problem, as noted earlier, is precisely that the concept of history too is secular in precisely the same sense we are trying to historicize. But here, I suggest, an opening presents itself. If, as I have argued, the development of secularity in the epistemic sense involved, inter alia, a transformation in how time was understood, it might be possible to think of this unanalyzed dimension of secularity as temporal—that is, as the time in which the secular and the religious are spaced. It is, I want to suggest, partly through the receding of time into the background of the contemporary imaginary that space has come to structure our experience in novel ways—a phenomenon Fredric Jameson has described as the “spatialization of time” (Jameson 2007).7 In a similar vein, Foucault has noted that “the present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space” (Foucault 1986, 22). “In any case,” he wrote, “I believe that the anxiety of our era has to do fundamentally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space” (Foucault 1986, 23). The world we inhabit, he adds, is not “a homogeneous and empty space” (Foucault 1986, 23). And yet, these qualities—homogeneity and emptiness—are precisely those which, according to Benjamin, characterize a secular temporal imaginary. Moreover, it is this conception of time that relegates it to the periphery of the visual field. That is to say, it is a certain understanding of time that makes possible the foregrounding of space. After all, as Foucault notes, “space itself has a history in Western experience, and it is not possible to disregard the fatal intersection of time with space” (Foucault 1986, 22). It is thus in some ways ironic that Foucault’s remarks on space are widely credited with having inaugurated a “spatial turn” in the human sciences, since they might also be read as calling attention to the under-theorization of the phenomenology of time that makes space appear “to form the horizon of our concerns”—time as the “epoch of space” (Foucault 1986, 22). Suppose then we approach the problem of secularity by inquiring not into the fate of religion in modernity per se but rather into the character of modern time as that time in which religion occupies space? What time is the secular? Here I can at most gesture briefly toward some of the inter-connected modalities of time associated with the spaces of modernity noted earlier—the nation-state, the market, and religion itself.8 The Time of the Nation-State Understandings of time are always implicated in institutions and practices. The transition noted earlier from a Christian to a secular understanding of time involved, among other things, a change of management: it was not simply that the church lost control of time, but that the state acquired it. Koselleck writes, “The genesis of the absolutist state is accompanied by a sporadic struggle against all manner of religious and political predictions. The state enforced a monopoly on the control of the future by suppressing apocalyptic and astrological readings of the future. In doing so, it assumed a function of the old Church for anti-Church objectives” (Koselleck 2004, 16). What replaced prophecy and figural interpretation were political calculation and rational prognosis. Where apocalypticism allowed for the future to interrupt the present, “prognosis implies a diagnosis which introduces the past into the future” (Koselleck 2004, 22). By flattening time by means of inductive inference and extrapolation from the past, the state could undercut claims to authority grounded in higher times. “Neither the One Big End of the World nor the several smaller ones could apparently affect the course of human affairs. Instead of the anticipated millennium, a new and different temporal perspective had opened up” (Koselleck 2004, 17). In Orhan Pamuk’s 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, the narrator, a wealthy, secular Turkish businessman hopelessly in love with a poor distant relation, describes a sense of collective belonging made possible by clocks, watches, and television schedules: Fusun did not adjust her watch because life as she lived it called for a clock that was accurate to the second, so that she could be punctual for work or some meetings; like her father, the retired civil servant, she did so as a way of acceding to a directive signaled to her straight from Ankara and the state, or so it seemed to me. We looked at the clock that appeared on the screen before the news much as we looked at the flag that appeared on the screen, while the national anthem was playing at the end of the broadcasting day: As we sat in our patch of the world, preparing to eat supper or bring the evening to a close by turning off the television, we felt the presence of millions of other families, all doing likewise, and the throng that was the nation, and the power of what we called the state, and our own insignificance. (Pamuk 2009, 287) The phenomenon of simultaneity evoked in Pamuk’s novel is discussed by Benedict Anderson, who observes that it is a central feature not only of the novel as a distinctively modern literary form—in which various “acts are performed at the same clocked, calendrical time, but by actors who may be largely unaware of one another” (Anderson 1991, 26)9—but also of the nation itself: The idea of a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogeneous, empty time is a precise analogue of the idea of the nation, which also is conceived as a solid community moving steadily down (or up) history. An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his . . . fellow-Americans. He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time. But he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity. (Anderson 1991, 26) Located within a community imagined via mass media, one “feels the presence” of millions of others, “all doing likewise.” Taylor argues that this conception of a unified national history enabled the transition of subjects to democratic citizens: A purely secular time-understanding allows us to imagine society “horizontally,” unrelated to any “high points,” where the ordinary sequence of events touches higher time, and therefore without recognizing any privileged persons or agencies—such as kings or priests—who stand and mediate at such alleged points. This radical horizontality is precisely what is implied in the direct access society, where each member is “immediate to the whole.” (Taylor 2007, 714) But as Anderson notes, this “deep, horizontal comradeship” is also what made it possible, “over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings” (Anderson 1991, 7). As Paul Kahn observes, the popular sovereign, understood as trans-temporal subject, is an imagined community defined by sacrificial violence (Kahn 2011, 23). Insofar as the nation-state is conceived as a primary locus of self-transcendence in modernity, national history might thus be seen as taking on some of the functions of the salvation history it has displaced. (See, e.g., Halbertal, 2012, 104ff.) The Time of the Market On Anderson’s account, the structural similarity between the novel and the nation is not coincidental: the origins of nationalism are rooted in the “meanwhile” made possible by “print capitalism”—by, for example, popular novels and national newspapers.10 Pamuk’s novel—itself a transnational triumph of print capitalism—suggests that by the mid-seventies, when the passage quoted above is set, television had replaced newspapers as the vehicle of transverse simultaneity (to itself eventually being eclipsed by the accelerated interconnectivity of digital capitalism).11 But the time of the nation remains bound to the time of the market. That modern time has been indelibly marked by the spirit of capitalism is suggested by Benjamin Franklin’s aphorism that “time is money”; it can be “spent” and should not be wasted. Here too we can detect the doctrine of time’s homogeneity: like money, it is liquid; each moment is fungible, replaceable by another, and holidays—no longer anchored vertically to “higher time”—can be rescheduled as needed. The time of the market is nevertheless a horizon within which growth and progress are assumed to be normative, and here too we find a connection between the time of the market and that of the state. Whereas markets are often assumed to be hostile to regulation by government, Jane I. Guyer points out that that monetarism—the economic theory underlying what is popularly referred to as “neoliberalism”—assigns the state the critical role of stabilizing these horizons by regulating the money supply. This, then, becomes the basis for recuperation of the long run as a viable working horizon: focus on a continuing stable value of money (particularly in capital markets, through the interest rate), faith in freed-up market forces to produce innovation, and calculation by increasingly sophisticated mathematics and model building, all complemented by a whole range of financial instruments that address (and take advantage of) market risk. If extra-market influences on capital and profit, such as currency inflation and unstable conditions in the world, can be limited by state policy and financial institutions, then conditions for investment can favour the kind of growth and “progress” through markets that Adam Smith predicted and that have been reiterated down through the ages since. (Guyer 2007, 412) It is interesting to note here in passing that the “long run” that forms the neoliberal horizon is sometimes referred to by economists as “secular,” as, for example, when Larry Summers warned in 2013 of the dangers of “secular stagnation”—that is, the long-term slowing of GDP growth (Summers 2013). Here the term is being used not in contrast to “religion,” but in its temporal sense, as denoting the long arc of history. It is this time of the market for which the state is at least partly responsible. If the time of the nation-state makes possible the sense of the individual as citizen, the time of the market is also productive of certain modes of modern subjectivity. Guyer notes that monetarism is premised on a “combination of rational choice in the very short run, growth in the very long run, and ‘submission’ in the interim” (Guyer 2007, 413). On such a view, the “near future”—that mid-range of time once thematized by the economic “five-year plan”—is largely evacuated.12 To put it differently, neoliberalism privatizes the near future and socializes the distant horizon, eclipsing in the process the in-between zone of collective political agency (Guyer 2007, 411).13 “So, through the concept of growth and the technologies for management of the money supply, monetarism moves the near future out of the kind of limelight that it once occupied in economic theory and, at the same time, evokes a strange new economic subject: one who can be rational, submissive, ingenious, and infinitely desirous all at the same time” (Guyer 2007, 413).13 The Time of Religion The state and the market are conventionally understood to be secular, in contrast to religion. But if, as I argued earlier, “religion” is a secular category—a constitutive feature of the modern imaginary—then our inquiry into the time of religion is also an inquiry into the self-understanding of secularity in what I have called the epistemic sense. My interest here, in other words, is not so much in how so-called “religious” people experience time, but rather in how the secular regime of knowledge positions “religion” within its own temporal schema. What “time” is implied by the spatialization of religion? Because the modern, secular imaginary—unlike earlier conceptions of social order—cannot legitimate itself by appealing to higher time, it tends, as Benjamin noted, toward progressivist modes of self-narration. Taylor writes: The sense that the present . . . order is right has to be expressed in terms that consort with this understanding of time. We can no longer describe it as the emergence of a self-realizing order lodged in higher time. The category that is at home in secular time is rather that of growth, maturation, drawn from the organic realm. . . . So history can be understood, for instance, as the slow growth of a human capacity, reason, fighting against error and superstition. (Taylor 2004, 175–76) Indeed, the idea of progress that emerged toward the end of the eighteenth century can be understood as compensating for the loss of an eschaton. As Koselleck puts it, “Progress occurred to the extent that the state and its prognostication was never able to satisfy soteriological demands which persisted within a state whose own existence depended upon the elimination of millenarian expectation” (Koselleck 2004, 21). As noted already, the emergence of the modern conception of religion as a bounded sphere coincided with the sense that religion, at least in the West, was in retreat. Because it was the decline of the role of the church as mediator of time that allowed for the invention of religion as a domain of space, religion is always seen as in its twilight; it is visible as such only from a vantage point that imagines itself to have transcended it, at least conceptually. Religion thus has the curious distinction of being anachronistic in its own age. It becomes an object only as it comes into view as circumscribed by what is not religion, with the result that the past is always supposed to have been more pervasively religious—its religion more encompassing—than the present. Correspondingly, those cultures to which the Western concept of religion was foreign have tended to be viewed as most religious, and hence least “developed.” As Edward Said famously showed, they were invariably portrayed as survivals from the past, the ubiquitous religiosity of which was viewed as a stumbling block to the “rational” use of time as money.14 These ideas continue to be heard today, for example in the oft-repeated claim that Islam has not yet undergone a reformation or passed through an enlightenment. What we see here is that the (past) time of religion underwrites the (present) time of the state and the market—and more broadly the spatial configuration of Western “modernity” (the term itself is telling)—by providing a sort of contrast case—an imagined “other” with which the secular spheres can be contrasted. Notice that the temporal contrast drawn within the secular regime is not the contrast I drew earlier between this regime and that of the medievals. Rather, it is a specter projected for purposes of self-legitimation. Religious time belongs, we might say, to the deep mythology of the secular regime of knowledge as a sort of origin story. Religion—that is to say, its presumed displacement—is what makes modernity modern. (This is one, though not the only, reason why it is hard to imagine a modern lexicon from which “religion” has been excised.) If the secular requires religion for purposes of legitimation, something like the converse is also the case: religion, in its contemporary sense, looks to secular history as an independent (source of) authority. The detachment of secular history from biblical narrative described by Frei allowed the former to act not simply as a check on the latter, but as a purportedly neutral point of reference in religious disagreements. For instance, in her reconstruction of the debate in Egypt surrounding the publication of Azazeel, a 2009 novel by Youssef Ziedan that sparked a controversy between its Muslim author and those, including Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishoy, who objected to its representation of Christianity, Saba Mahmood calls attention to “the inordinate weight secular conceptions of history and temporality command in religious narratives today” (Mahmood 2016, 197). The debate hinged in part on the historical veracity of the novel’s depictions of the fourth and fifth centuries, when a theological controversy over Christ’s two natures led to a schism in Christianity that shaped Coptic Orthodoxy. Commenting on the controversy, Mahmood writes, “Note that, despite their disagreement, both Ziedan and Bishoy purport to describe ecumenical events located in calendrical (linear, empty, homogenous) rather than sacral time, and each posits a distinction between the factuality of events as they ‘really happened’ and their narrative meaning” (Mahmood 2016, 197). In other words, “both subscribe to the secular assumption that for revelation to be persuasive it must be commensurate with historical truth” (Mahmood 2016, 182–83). Part of what is significant here is the extent to which historical consciousness has penetrated and inflected emic religious understandings, but it is also worth noting, more fundamentally, that secular time functions as a condition of religion’s very possibility—as part of the background against which it is possible to pick religion out as a discrete phenomenon and to articulate and adjudicate religious difference.15 AFTER SECULAR TIME? However crucial to the modern Western imaginary the boundary between the secular and the religious may be, its precise location is always in dispute. Can something similar be said of modernity’s temporal horizons? If I may be permitted some highly speculative remarks at the conclusion of an admittedly already speculative paper, I would venture the observation that secular time is today under considerable pressure, and that herein lies the possibility of taking its measure. Secular time represents itself as an infinite horizon, and thus as the inescapable context of thought and experience. So construed, it seems to elude our grasp, encircling our thinking as its transcendental condition. To be made sense of as an object of study and critique in the way that “religion” is an object for modernity, secular time would need to be framed by something other than itself: it would have to be grasped from the point of view, so to speak, of some eschatological limit. Religion, being a constituent element of the secular imaginary, cannot itself provide such a perspective. Are there limits to the secular? Does secularity contain the traces of a “constitutive outside”?16 Here we might again find ourselves tempted by dubious spatial metaphors, but suppose, following Benjamin’s lead, we imagine these limits as ruptures rather than as boundaries, that is, as events. If secular time defined the limits of our consciousness, there would be little sense in attempting to escape it. But Benjamin’s suggestion in his Thirteenth Thesis on the Philosophy of History is that “homogeneous, empty time” is less our actual context than a sort of ideological horizon—an artificial construct (like the elaborate sound-stage in the film The Truman Show)—and indeed one that is always being interrupted. After noting that the idea of historical progress depends on such a view of time, Benjamin remarks, in Thesis Fourteen, that, in fact, “history is the subject of a structure whose site is not homogeneous, empty time, but time filled by the presence of the now” (Benjamin 1968, 261, italics mine). He goes on to suggest that this “time of the now” is “shot through with chips of Messianic time” (Benjamin 1968, 263). Benjamin’s reference here is not to the Christian conception of the “fullness” of kairotic moments, but rather to the Jewish idea—with which the Christian nevertheless shares important similarities in comparison with the secular account—that “every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter” (Benjamin 1968, 264). In W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz, the narrator recalls the following conversation with the title character: Could we not claim, said Austerlitz, that time itself has been nonconcurrent over the centuries and the millennia? It is not so long ago, after all, that it began spreading out over everything. And is not human life in many parts of the earth governed to this day less by time than by the weather, and thus by an unquantifiable dimension which disregards linear regularity, does not progress constantly forward but moves in eddies, is marked by episodes of congestion and irruption, recurs in ever-changing form, and evolves in no one knows what direction? (Sebald 2001, 100–101)17 Whereas, in the quote from The Museum of Innocence referenced earlier, Pamuk’s narrator describes the experience of being caught up within the simultaneous progress of the nation-state, Sebald’s protagonist—a Czech Jew brought to the United Kingdom in the Kindertransport—has never owned a clock or watch: even in “a metropolis ruled by time,” Austerlitz says, “it is still possible to be outside time” (Sebald 2001, 101). Time, Sebald’s character suggests, is not as homogeneous and empty—nor national identity as untroubled—as we have been taught to think. Beneath the smooth veneer of the secular chronology that has been “spreading out over everything” lies something less linear and easily quantifiable. In Austerlitz and other books by Sebald, this alternative temporal imaginary is not simply described, but also performed. If, as Anderson tells us, the novel as a literary form embodies secular time, Sebald’s writing responds to the traumas of the twentieth century—including the Holocaust/Shoah—not least in challenging this modern narrative structure. His books, which often blend historical fact with fiction and words with images, move in eddies, circling around the displacements of the not-so-distant past and reclaiming le temps perdu from historical oblivion. Eschewing progressive narratives, they destabilize narratives of progress. Judith Butler has argued that the problem with the secular understanding of time is “not that there are different temporalities in different cultural locations (and that, accordingly, we simply need to broaden our cultural frameworks to become more internally complicated and capacious)” (Butler 2009, 17). To adopt such a view would be to problematically treat “cultures” as discrete, bounded wholes. Rather, she argues, “the problem is that certain notions of relevant geopolitical space—including the spatial boundedness of minority communities—are circumscribed by this story of a progressive modernity; certain notions of what ‘this time’ can and must be are simply construed on the basis of circumscribing the ‘where’ of its happening” (Butler 2009, 17–18). Riffing on Benjamin’s theses, Butler argues that “to separate the ‘now time’ from these claims of modernity is to undercut the temporal framework that uncritically supports state power, its legitimating effect, and its coercive instrumentalities” (Butler 2009, 36–37). To reconceive of time is a political act, and Homi Bhabha has suggested that it is on the margins of the nation-state and its attendant temporal imaginary that such a politics might be able to take root, challenging “the spatial fantasy of modern cultural communities as living their history ‘contemporaneously,’ in a ‘homogeneous empty time’ of the People-as-One” (Bhabha 1994, 358).18 By bringing into view “the ambivalent historical temporality of modern national cultures—the aporetic coexistence, within the cultural history of the modern imagined community, of both the dynastic, hierarchical, prefigurative ‘medieval’ traditions (the past), and the secular, homogeneous, synchronous cross-time of modernity (the present),” a subaltern account of “disjunctive temporality,” attentive to the disruptive potential poised just beneath the placid surface of secular time, would constitute what Benjamin called a critique of “the concept of progress itself” (Bhabha 1994, 358–59).19 CONCLUSION To attempt a critique of progress is not, Butler notes, to disavow “any and all ways of looking forward,” but to acknowledge that discussions about the “place” of religion in the modern world are never altogether free from questions of civilizational politics (Butler 2009, 29). If secularity in the epistemic sense is bound up with the spatial demarcation of the religious, then calling attention to the syncopated, anachronistic temporality of the present not only unsettles the ideology of homogeneous, empty time but also “complicates any firm distinctions we might have between the secular and the religious” (Butler 2009, 21).20 I am grateful to Lucia Hulsether for an insightful response to an earlier version of this paper delivered in the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society at Yale University. I would also like to thank Ward Blanton, Paul W. Kahn, Méadhbh McIvor, and Yvonne Sherwood for helpful feedback. Finally, thanks are due to two anonymous reviewers whose careful reading has helped to improve the paper. REFERENCES Anderson , Benedict . 1991 . Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism . Revised ed. London : Verso . Asad , Talal . 1993 . Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam . Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press . Auerbach , Erich . 1955 . Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Thought . Translated by Willard R. Trask . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Augustine . 1961 . Confessions . Translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin . New York : Penguin Books . Benjamin , Walter . 1968 . “ Theses on the Philosophy of History .” In Illuminations , edited by Hannah Arendt , translated by Harry Zohn. New York : Schoken Books . ——. 1986 . “ Theologico-Political Fragment .” In Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings , edited by Peter Demetz . New York : Schocken Books . Bhabha , Homi K . 1994 . The Location of Culture . New York : Routledge . Blumenberg , Hans . 1987 . The Genesis of the Copernican World . Translated by Robert M. Wallace . Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press . Judith Butler . 2009 . “ Sexual Politics, Torture, and Secular Time .” In Intimate Citizenships: Gender, Sexualities, Politics , edited by Elżbieta H. Oleksy . New York : Routledge . Casanova , José . 1994 . Public Religions in the Modern World . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Cavanaugh , William T . 2009 . The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict . New York : Oxford University Press . Connolly , William E . 2008 . Capitalism and Christianity, American Style . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Dubuisson , Daniel . 2003 . The Western Construction of Religion: Myths, Knowledge, and Ideology . Translated William Sayers . Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press . East , Ben . 2012 . “ Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan: review .” The Guardian , 28 April. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/29/azazeel-youssef-ziedan-book-review. Accessed July 20, 2017 . Fitzgerald , Timothy . 2000 . The Ideology of Religious Studies . New York : Oxford University Press . Foucault , Michel . 1986 . “ Of Other Spaces, ” translated by Jay Miscowiec . Diacritics 16 ( 1 ): 22 – 7 . Frei , Hans W . 1974 . The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics . New Haven, CT : Yale University Press . Guyer , Jane I . 2007 . “ Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on Macroeconomic, Evangelical, and Punctuated Time .” American Ethnologist 34 ( 3 ): 409 – 21 . Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS Halbertal , Moshe . 2012 . On Sacrifice . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Innerarity , Daniel . 2012 . The Future and Its Enemies . Translated by Sandra Kingery . Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press . Jameson , Fredric . 2007 . Jameson on Jameson: Conversations on Cultural Marxism . Edited by Ian Buchanan . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Kahn , Paul W . 2011 . Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty . New York : Columbia University Press . Knott , Kim . 2005 . “ Spatial Theory and Method for the Study of Religion .” Temenos 41 ( 2 ): 153 – 84 . Koselleck , Reinhart . 2004 . Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time . Translated by Keith Tribe . New York : Columbia University Press . Leshem , Dotan . 2016 . The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault . New York : Columbia University Press . Lloyd , Vincent W . 2016 . “ Introduction: Managing Race, Managing Religion .” In Race and Secularism in America , edited by Jonathon S. Kahn and Vincent W. Lloyd , 2–19. New York : Columbia University Press . Mahmood , Saba . 2016 . Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Mamdani , Mahmood . 2004 . Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, The Cold War, and the Roots of Terror . New York : Doubleday . Masuzawa , Tomoko . 2005 . The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism . Chicago : The University of Chicago Press . Mouffe , Chantal . 2000 . The Democratic Paradox . London : Verso . Pamuk , Orhan . 2009 . The Museum of Innocence . Translated by Maureen Freely . New York : Alfred A. Knopf . Rosa , Hartmut . 2003 . “ Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronized High-Speed Society .” Constellations 10 ( 1 ): 3 – 33 . Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS Said , Edward W . 1979 . Orientalism . New York : Vintage Books . Sebald , W. G . 2001 . Austerlitz . Translated by Anthea Bell . New York : Random House . Stroumsa , Guy G . 2010 . A New Science: The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason . Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press . Summers , Larry . 2013 . “IMF Fourteenth Annual Research Conference in Honor of Stanley Fischer.” 8 November. Available at http://larrysummers.com/imf-fourteenth-annual-research-conference-in-honor-of-stanley-fischer/. Accessed July 20, 2017 . Taylor , Charles . 2007 . A Secular Age . Cambridge, MA : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press . ——. 2004 . Modern Social Imaginaries . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Footnotes 1 Here I use the term “hegemony” to mark the dominance of a particular regime of knowledge. Edward Said writes, “In any society not totalitarian, then, certain cultural forms predominate over others, just as certain ideas are more influential than others; the form of this cultural leadership is what Antonio Gramsci has identified as hegemony, an indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West” (Said 1979, 7). 2 In fact, there is a connection here, which under present constraints I am able to note only in passing: secular modernity is racialized and gendered. Thus, Vincent W. Lloyd observes that “whiteness is secular, and the secular is white” (Lloyd 2016, 5). Indeed, secularity can be theorized as a technology of racial and gender control. 3 The common formula that, for the Greeks, time was cyclical, whereas Christianity introduced the idea of linearity, while gesturing at something important, is nevertheless overly simplistic. As Hans Blumenberg notes, the Christian idea of history can also be understood as “the reduction of Stoicism’s world-repetitions to one phase” (Blumenberg 1987, 453). Moreover, the notion of circularity did not necessarily entail a rejection of linearity. For example, in Aristotle’s view, the circle functions as a measuring device (a cycle), but what is measured can be represented linearly (Blumenberg 1987, 454). There were, however, important differences between Aristotle’s conception of time and that of the medievals. Blumenberg notes that Aristotle sought to render time uniform by denying the intelligibility of speaking of its having a beginning or end. God is invoked, in Aristotle’s metaphysics, not as creator of the world but as its objective observer, and hence guarantor of time: in effect, time is a function of God’s measurement of it (Blumenberg 1987, 438–39, 455). For the scholastics, by contrast, time belonged to creation: “it is not something that impinges and is decreed from outside; instead, it belongs to the inner structure of things” (Blumenberg 1987, 458). This move had the effect of dissociating time from measurability: “the assumption, by dogma, that time had a beginning and an end made the ontological insistence on absolute uniformity impossible” (Blumenberg 1987, 459). 4 What follows is intended as a conceptual, rather than historical, sketch. With respect to ongoing debates among historians and genealogists as to how these shifts took place, and where precisely to mark them, I remain largely agnostic. In any case, the transition described here was clearly not an all-or-nothing affair, and it is possible to find exceptions to the dominant temporal imaginaries and traces of rival ways of thinking (a point to which I return later in the paper). Moreover, as I note, the discipline of history might, for conceptual reasons, prove methodologically inadequate to giving a full account of its own transcendental conditions. 5 It has been said that we always talk about time using spatial metaphors (Blumenberg 1987, 437). 6 Alternatively, Christianity was sometimes positioned (e.g., by comparative theologians) as the culmination of progressive religious development. 7 “Time,” Jameson contends, “has become a perpetual present and thus spatial” (Jameson 2007, 47). Similarly, Taylor writes, “In a sense, time has been ‘spatialized’” (Taylor 2004, 206, n16). 8 By no means do I claim that these spaces are exhaustive. 9 In a footnote, Anderson adds, “Nothing better shows the immersion of the novel in homogeneous, empty time than the absence of those prefatory genealogies, often ascending to the origin of man, which are so characteristic a feature of ancient chronicles, legends, and holy books” (Anderson 1991, 26, n39). 10 It is interesting to note here the sense of newspapers as Zeitungen: many papers contain the word “times” in their titles, and some languages preserve the link to the secular: for instance, O Século (“The Century”) was a Portuguese newspaper published in Lisbon from 1881 to 1977. 11 Note that the internet, while enabling globalization, is itself divided along national and linguistic lines. At the same time, digital capitalism enables networks of affiliation and sympathy that cut across national lines, fragmenting national cultures and enabling new forms of identity. 12 Capitalism is also associated with another feature of modern time, namely acceleration. Hartmut Rosa has noted that “the functioning of the capitalist system rests on the accelerating circulation of goods and capital in a growth-oriented society” (Rosa 2003, 11–12). Rosa argues that the development of the capitalist framework can itself be located within a broader cultural shift in what a fulfilled life was taken to consist in: “The eudaimonistic promise of modern acceleration thus appears to be a functional equivalent to religious ideas of eternity or ‘eternal life,’ and the acceleration of ‘the pace of life’ represents the modern answer to the problem of finitude and death” (Rosa 2003, 13). 13 The infinitely desirous subject of neoliberal economic theory corresponds to what Leshem characterizes as a “radicalization of the Christian theory of economic growth”: “the shift that occurred with the marketization of the Christian economy is not the expulsion of God from the economy but rather the indiscriminate ascription of His divine ability to generate insatiable desires, which, in turn, generate an unlimited growth. . . . [W]hat we are really confronted with is the divinization of each and every object of desire” (Leshem 2016, 168). 14 For example, “Renan had called the Semites an instance of arrested development, and functionally speaking this came to mean that for the Orientalist no modern Semite, however much he may have believed himself to be modern, could ever outdistance the organizing claims on him of his origins” (Said 1979, 234). 15 Reviews of the novel’s English language translation are notable for the way they framed the Egyptian debate. For example, The Guardian’s Ben East writes, “Distance and secularity suggest most English-speaking readers are likely to approach the novel (superbly translated by Jonathan Wright) with slightly less baggage. And, in fact, for all the trouble caused by his expertly researched nods to the internecine struggles within the nascent church, Ziedan seems to be calling for harmony and understanding in religious thought. He merely underlines how ridiculous—and yet dangerous—squabbles between religious sects can be” (East 2012). In addition to emphasizing the novel’s historicity, East’s framing underscores the conceptualization of religion as belonging to the West’s violent, irrational past and its contemporary nonsecular others. 16 For an articulation of the Derridean concept of the constitutive outside, see Mouffe 2000, 12. 17 Austerlitz meditates frequently on the experience of time, toying with the ideas “that all moments of time have co-existed simultaneously” (Sebald 2001, 101) and “all the moments of our life occupy the same space” (Sebald 2001, 257). 18 Daniel Innerarity has coined the term “chronopolitics” to refer to the politics of time-control. He notes that a “critical theory of society should ask itself: who can place other people, societies, or social subsystems under time constraints?” (Innerarity 2012, 106). 19 Here it might also be argued that the possibility of political action depends on being able to reclaim the sort of “near future” eclipsed by neoliberal time. The political theorist William E. Connolly, who emphasizes time as a process of becoming, argues that “the importance of projecting an interim future is in part tied to our inability in a world of becoming to imagine constructively beyond an interim horizon, in part to the urgent need to relieve the suffering of several constituencies soon, and in part to the short time left to come to terms with the devastating potential of global warming” (Connolly 2008, 94). 20 It is worth noting here that on Benjamin’s account, the relation between history and the Messianic is not progressive: the latter belongs to an altogether different order than the former. Benjamin writes, “Only the Messiah himself consummates all history, in the sense that he alone redeems, completes, creates its relation to the Messianic. For this reason nothing historical can relate itself on its own account to anything Messianic. Therefore the Kingdom of God is not the telos of the historical dynamic; it cannot be set as a goal” (Benjamin 1986, 312). It is on this ground that Benjamin rejects the idea of a political theocracy. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the American Academy of Religion Oxford University Press

Secularity, Religion, and the Spatialization of Time

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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Abstract

Abstract Although “secularity” is often contrasted with “religion” as though the distinction between them bisected society, sorting practices and people into competing kinds, their relation is better understood as analogous to that between a frame and what is framed by it: secularity so conceived is not simply the inverse, negative space of religion but the epistemic regime that enables us to speak of “religion” in the first place, as a particular object of modern interest and anxiety. Secularity, I contend, can be understood temporally as that time in which religion occupies space. This paper draws upon Walter Benjamin’s concept of “Messianic time” to gain critical leverage on the temporal horizons of the nation-state and the neoliberal market. Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it, contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctified (apparently unlike time . . . which was detached from the sacred in the nineteenth century). . . . And perhaps our life is still governed by a certain number of oppositions that remain inviolable, that our institutions and practices have not yet dared to break down. These are oppositions that we regard as simple givens: for example between private space and public space, between family space and social space, between cultural space and useful space, between the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred. —Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces” [W]hat is this “now” of modernity? Who defines this present from which we speak? This leads to a more challenging question: what is the desire of this repeated demand to modernize? Why does it insist, so compulsively, on its contemporaneous reality, its spatial dimension, its spectatorial distance? —Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture When you talk about time—it is always political. —Marginale in a used copy of Brenda Hillman, Cascadia ONE OF THE CHALLENGES of narrating the history of secularization is that such an enterprise presupposes the standpoint of a secular conception of history. The reasons for this, I shall argue, are twofold: first, secularization can be understood as involving most fundamentally a shift in how human beings understand and inhabit time, and this shift is what enables history in its contemporary sense. The second reason is related to the first, though the nature of this relation will require some clarification: secularity as a mode of temporality provides the context in which it becomes possible to speak of religion as a social sphere. To examine secularity historically is thus to inquire into the conditions of history’s own possibility. But just for this reason it can be difficult to achieve the appropriate critical distance from our topic and to take its full measure. In what follows I shall offer some remarks on the background conditions that make possible contemporary discussions of religion and its fate in modernity. The discussions I have in mind here are not limited to the academy, although they circulate through it. Daniel Dubuisson has argued that the concept of religion is “the West’s most characteristic concept, around which it has established and developed its identity, while at the same time defining its way of conceiving humankind and the world” (Dubuisson 2003, 9). Religion is always near the top of the cultural agenda, and even those who position themselves against it cannot seem to stop talking about it. CONSTRUCTIONS OF THE SECULAR At the most general level, the claim I want to advance here is that it was partly through the construction of the modern category of religion that secularity constituted itself. “Religion,” I want to argue, is a secular category—a constitutive feature of the modern Western social imaginary. Whereas the general trajectory of contemporary research on secularization (at least within the humanities) increasingly recognizes that secularity had to be constructed (and is not simply the residual baseline that emerges into view when the tide of religion recedes), my argument is that this was achieved in crucial part by imagining a “religious sphere.” It is important to my argument that secularity in the primary sense in which I shall be exploring the concept occupies a hegemonic position vis-à-vis religion; though constructed, it is the more or less invisible background in relation to which religion is singled out as a special sort of phenomenon.1 In somewhat the way that “whiteness” is naturalized as normative and largely invisible by foregrounding the putative problem of “racial difference,” secularity constructs itself as the neutral frame of reference for discussions of religion.2 In addition to this basic sense, there is of course another sense of the term “secularity,” according to which it is viewed as in zero-sum competition with religion: secularity as the absence of religion. Indeed, this latter sense is probably the more familiar of the two. Secularity so conceived is that which is thought to be encroaching upon religion, and which is variously viewed as threat or liberation. But such a view presupposes what I shall call a secular framing. Insofar as the secular is seen as religion’s other—as not-religion—we have adopted, as it were, a secular account of secularity. Secularity is thus constructed in two senses: first as a category adjacent to and morphologically inverse to that of “religion,” occupying the space left vacant by the latter; and second as a privileged epistemological standpoint. Recognizing these two different senses is important for a proper appreciation of the politics surrounding religion. Religion—that is, the institutions, practices, and communities so classified—is in many quarters strong, and “secularists” are often concerned by the power religion exerts in the public sphere; but this very configuration of the social world implies the dominance of a secular regime of knowledge, since it is within the latter that the clash between religion and its other(s) can be framed as such. These two different senses of “secularity” are of course related, but it is important to recognize that one need not be a secularist to be secular in the epistemological sense. Indeed, to advocate on behalf of “religion” is a distinctively secular endeavor. It is the latter framing—the secular regime of knowledge—that I shall be primarily concerned with here. I am interested, that is to say, with secularization in a very particular sense—namely, with the emergence of the conditions necessary to raise debates about the “place” of religion in contemporary life. Religion is today commonly viewed as occupying space. This is true popularly, as well as in scholarly literature, such as Kim Knott’s interesting and thought-provoking work on the “location of religion”: “Religion, which is inherently social, must also exist and express itself in and through space. Moreover,” Knott writes, “it plays its part in the production and reproduction of social space. Transnational religious communities, for example, root themselves in national contexts and in a variety of local places” (Knott 2005, 159). Space, on this account, is neither a formal grid of coordinates, nor an ontological structure, nor a pure form of sensible intuition (as Kant had it), but “a mental or conceptual dimension, one which may float free of any physical mooring, but . . . may provide a means of imagining and giving expression to human possibility, cultural difference, the imagination itself, as well as social relations” (Knott 2005, 159). Even when space is not explicitly theorized, the study of religion is rife with spatial metaphors (“insiders” versus “outsiders,” “public” versus “private”) and there have been numerous attempts to “map” the “religious landscape” and geographical distribution of the world’s religions. Theories of secularization often make use of these same spatial metaphors: religion is said to be “losing ground,” to be undergoing differentiation into a distinct “sphere,” or to be becoming “privatized.” Indeed, an early usage of “secularization” was overtly spatial and referred to the movement of goods and people outside the cloister. Thus, a “secular” priest was one who worked in a diocese, rather than belonging to a monastic order. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation, the term “secularization” came to be used in reference to the expropriation of ecclesial property by the state. Nevertheless, the secular was not hostile to “religion” per se. On the contrary, the distinction between cloister and world was itself what today we would call a “religious” one—bisecting, rather than circumscribing, Christendom—and it drew in turn upon an earlier, more basic understanding of what the secular is, which had to do not with space but with time. A more specific aim of this paper is thus to try to better understand the spatio-temporal order on which secularity as a regime of knowledge depends. I shall argue that it emerges through, inter alia, the intersection of two related trends—the collapse of the idea of sacramentally mediated time, on the one hand, and the spatialization of religion, on the other. THE COLLAPSE OF SACRAMENTAL TIME In medieval Latin, the term saeculum meant “century” or “age,” and it referred to the “temporal” domain of earthly time, in contrast to the eternal “age” of God, which Augustine had classically described as “a never-ending present” (Augustine 1961, 263). The former “time” was not the autonomous realm of history as we understand it today—an “immanent frame” of causal relations—but the interval between fall and eschaton: its character derived from its relation to the latter “time.” The Church—understood as both visible and invisible—straddled the distinction between these two “times,” mediating it sacramentally. The secular, we might say, was bounded and encased by the eternal, on which it depended for its significance. The configuration of secular time within eternity made possible a sense of the trans-temporal “simultaneity” of significant events that were not causally adjacent. As Erich Auerbach has noted, such an understanding is what underwrote “figural interpretations” of biblical texts, in which an “earlier” event was said to anticipate a “later” one, which constituted its fulfillment: For example, if an occurrence like the sacrifice of Isaac is interpreted as prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ, so that in the former the latter is as it were announced and promised, and the latter “fulfills” . . . the former, then a connection is established between two events which are linked neither temporally nor causally—a connection that is impossible to establish by reason in the horizontal dimension (if I may be permitted to use this term for a temporal extension). It can be established only if both occurrences are vertically linked to Divine Providence, which alone is able to devise such a plan of history and supply the key to its understanding. The horizontal, that is the temporal and causal, connection of occurrences is dissolved; the here and now is no longer a mere link in an earthly chain of events, it is simultaneously something which has always been, and which will be fulfilled in the future; and strictly, in the eyes of God, it is something eternal, something omni-temporal. . . (Auerbach 1955, 73–74) The eternal “now” of God’s perspective was what allowed for the gathering together of (efficiently) causally discrete moments of secular time into what Charles Taylor calls “kairotic knots” (Taylor 2007, 54). These “higher times” introduced (what we are apt to see as) a warping, kinking, and compression of the temporal order: “Events which were far apart in profane time could nevertheless be closely linked” (Taylor 2007, 55). Just as medieval maps tended to be less concerned with geometrical relations than with relations of meaning, so the function of the Church’s liturgical calendar was not simply to enable time-keeping in the sense with which we are today familiar, but to provide the hermeneutical key for understanding the unfolding of salvation in secular time. Christian thinking about time drew on the Hellenic distinction between chronos and kairos but joined these with biblical narrativity to yield important transformations in how these terms were understood. Whereas classical conceptions of time tended to circle back on a time of origins, the Christian calendar opened toward the future.3 “Platonic melancholic archaism that desires to return to eternity, which is conceived as the origin of time, is replaced by the desire to participate in the eschaton in the fullness of the ages, at the exact moment when all will be recapitulated in Christ and a new age of eternality will open” (Lesham 2016, 48). This eschatological future was not the causal outcome of historical progress in the modern sense, and its diremptive relation to chronological time allowed the eschatological future to interrupt the present in moments of kairotic exception. Contrasting the Christian cosmology with the Platonic, in which the distinction between the world and the eternal realm of forms is represented in spatial terms, Dotan Leshem writes: In Christian thought the exception is no longer of a spatial order; it is an exception that takes place in time that became rectilinear. What appears in the crucial moments that constitute Christian history is an exception from the “monochronic” linearity of time in which the future age to come is made present. It is, first and foremost, a “breach” or a “transgression” of the temporal, not the spatial, order of things. (Lesham 2016, 48) Since the difference between the present and the eschatological future was not a matter of quantitative distance in time, the latter could contribute to the qualitative texture of what came to be thought of as Heilsgeschichte. As Reinhart Koselleck puts it: “The Church integrates the future as the possible End of the World within its organization of time; it is not placed at the end point of time in a strictly linear fashion. The end of time can be experienced only because it is always already sublimated in the Church. The history of the Church remains the history of salvation so long as this condition held” (Koselleck 2004, 13). For Christian medievals, as José Casanova has pointed out, there were really three “times,” not two—“the eternal age of God and the temporal-historical age, which is itself divided into the sacred-spiritual time of salvation, represented by the church’s calendar, and the secular age proper (saeculum)” (Casanova 1994, 14). What was largely lost in the development of modernity was not the distinction between time and eternity per se—though it is important to note an accompanying shift in the conceptualizing of eternity from “never-ending present” to infinite duration—but rather the necessary linkage of secular time to eternity, the zone of overlap made possible through the sacramental mediation of the Church.4 As Hans Frei showed, these developments were connected with an important shift in the understanding of the Bible as scripture. On Frei’s telling, earlier generations of Christians had placed their experience of the world within a biblical narrative, but post-Enlightenment people, including Christians, increasingly brought the biblical narrative within their own experience, which seemed more primary and “real” than did the narrative itself. The Bible came to be viewed as something other than history, and history came to be viewed as independent of the biblical narrative—something to be understood entirely on its own terms. This is not to say that Enlightenment-era theologians necessarily viewed the Bible as false. On the contrary, they tended to see the Bible as confirming history, or historical evidence as confirming biblical narratives. The point, though, is that they saw these two domains as essentially distinct: history can be understood apart from the Bible, even if some of what the Bible says actually happened. According to this Enlightenment view, Frei writes: The real events of history constitute an autonomous temporal framework of their own under God’s providential design. Instead of rendering them accessible, the narratives, heretofore indispensable as means of access to the events, now simply verify them, thus affirming their autonomy and the fact that they are in principle accessible through any kind of description that can manage to be accurate either predictively or after the event. It simply happens that, again under God’s providence, it is the Bible that contains the accurate descriptions. There is now a logical distinction and a reflective distance between the stories and the “reality” they depict. The depicted biblical world and the real historical world began to be separated at once in thought and in sensibility, no matter whether the depiction was thought to agree with reality or disagree with it. (Frei 1974, 4–5) As a result of this shift, Frei argues, the narrative elements of the Bible—the sense that it tells one big, ongoing story—tended to drop out of view, and efforts had to be made to try to bring the Bible into some sort of relation with Christians’ experience of the world, which was now independent of that narrative. Excluded from the middle ground of sacramental/hermeneutical mediation, the Bible had, as it were, to be shifted into the eternal if it was not to be claimed by the historical. The result was that theologians began either to treat the Bible as containing timeless moral truths or to approach it from a critical-historical perspective. New epistemological frameworks, independent from ecclesial authority, in which the Bible itself could be made an object of inquiry, were enabled by what we might here call the “secularization” of secular time. The conceptual detachment of secular time from anything “higher” seemed to dissolve Taylor’s “kairotic knots” into the smooth, even flow of chronology. “What has come to take the place of the mediaeval conception of simultaneity-along-time,” Benedict Anderson has argued, is a doctrine of time “in which simultaneity is, as it were, transverse, cross-time, marked not by prefiguring and fulfillment, but by temporal coincidence, and measured by clock and calendar” (Anderson 1991, 24). This is the view of time to which Walter Benjamin famously alluded when he wrote that “the concept of the historical progress of mankind cannot be sundered from the concept of its progression through a homogeneous, empty time” (Benjamin 1968, 261). On the modern view, time “has become a container, indifferent to what fills it” (Taylor 2007, 58). So conceived, history was rendered a purely immanent mode of temporality, capable of being exhaustively accounted for in terms of horizontal (efficient) causation. THE SPATIALIZATION OF RELIGION This flattening and standardization of time allowed for the development of the modern category of “religion.” Having been effectively denied any meaningful contrast case in a comprehensive scheme of temporal relations, the term “secular” was not retired but rather given new quasi-spatial employments. On the modern view, the secular came to be seen as an autonomous realm, not of time but of space, characterized principally by political activity and economic exchange, which had been “emancipated” from control by the church. Despite superficial similarities, this was not the earlier distinction between world and cloister: that distinction had its life within a universe of ideas that was now seen as belonging to secularity’s contrast case, religion. Moreover, the earlier appeal to spatial dimensions was essentially metaphorical: a secular priest, for example, was not simply “outside” the cloister but living his vocation within the temporal order.5 But whereas the earlier spatial metaphors only made sense within an understanding of time as penetrated by eternity, the modern view of secularity makes space primary. The relevant contrast is not with the eternal or with “higher times,” but with the religious as a discrete sphere, which, like “politics” and “the market,” was newly imagined as possessing an autonomous essence. The pervasiveness of spatial language makes it easy to suppose that these spheres, though once entangled, were always analytically distinct, as is implied by the language of “emancipation.” Like a nation retreating from an ill-advised imperial adventure, religion is here portrayed as withdrawing into the space defined by its proper borders. “Let us go a little further,” Louis Dumont suggests: “medieval religion was a great cloak—I am thinking of the Mantle of Our Lady of Mercy. Once it became an individual affair it lost its all-embracing capacity and became one among other apparently equal considerations, of which the political was the first born” (Dumont, quoted in Asad 1993, 28). But as Talal Asad, commenting on Dumont’s view, has pointed out, “the insistence that religion has an autonomous essence”—a sphere all its own—is the product of discursive shifts in the term’s usage, the appreciation of which cautions against anachronistically projecting our present imaginary backward on history (Asad 1993, 28). “Religion” in its modern, bounded sense is “a modern Western norm, the product of a unique post-Reformation history,” and not a universal essence (Asad 1993, 28). In other words, it is not simply that the forms and/or boundaries of religion have changed over time; so too has the meaning of the term itself. In the ancient Roman world, religio referred to binding obligations, including but not limited to cultic rites. According to Cicero, as Dubuisson notes, “a religious mind is one that scrupulously follows traditional rules (for example, on the occasion of consular elections), in particular by submitting to the science of augurs and soothsayers, because, he says, if there are interpreters of omens, it is sure proof that the gods exist” (Dubuisson 2003, 15). In the fourth century, Augustine used the word “religion” to mean piety or worship, but as William Cavanaugh points out, by the middle ages that usage too had largely been replaced. For the scholastics, the distinction between the secular and the religious marked the difference noted earlier between diocesan priests and priests in orders. However, in none of these contexts, as Cavanaugh observes, did the term refer to a discrete sphere of life, to belief systems, to inward states, or to a genus of which the world religions are species (Cavanaugh 2009, 65–67). These latter understandings are characteristic of Western, post-Enlightenment thought, but the conditions that made them possible emerged earlier and included, importantly, both new ideas about time and new spatial vistas. Guy Stroumsa writes: “Together with the discovery of the New World, the discovery of chronology, of the parallel histories of ancient civilizations, permitted a hitherto unknown conception of the unity of humankind. Beyond the multiple forms of religion, including the most barbarian forms of idolatry, such as the human sacrifices practiced by some American peoples, all religions reflected the unity of humankind” (Stroumsa 2010, 7). The new unitary and progressive account of time that emerged out of the collapse of the church’s sacramental mediation made it possible to view religion as a human universal, even as it served to relativize Christianity.6 Though a distinctively Western category, “religion” thus came to name a purportedly global reality. The invention of religion in its modern, quasi-sociological sense coincided with the rise of nation-states. As Timothy Fitzgerald has pointed out, the modern discourse of religion functions partly as a containment strategy, clearing space within Western (or Westernized) societies for the “rationality” of markets and allowing states to monopolize sovereignty (Fitzgerald 2000, 5). Having been constructed as something pertaining to a spiritual realm of “faith,” religion is depoliticized, while institutions conceived of as “secular” come to be understood as natural and universal. The privatization of so-called “religious” attachments and their representation as optional make possible the emergence of the abstract citizen, whose primary loyalty belongs to the state. Moreover, the liberal state’s legitimacy rests in part on its claim to be able to manage religion: as Cavanaugh and Mahmood Mamdani have pointed out, “religious violence”—conceived of as irrational and disconnected from the narratives of historical progress by means of which political violence tends to be justified—both deflects attention from, and justifies, state violence (See Cavanaugh 2009 and Mamdani 2004). Wedded to an ideology of secularization as modernization, the discourse of religion has also functioned historically as a constituent feature of the understandings by which “the West” constructed itself over against the rest. Tomoko Masuzawa writes: “When religion came to be identified as such—that is, more or less in the same sense that we think of it today—it came to be recognized above all as something that, in the opinions of many self-consciously modern Europeans, was in the process of disappearing from their midst, or if not altogether disappearing, becoming circumscribed in such a way that it was finally discernible as a distinct, and limited, phenomenon” (Masuzawa 2005, 19). Conceived of as belonging to an earlier stage of social evolution, religion was what characterized those outside the Western dispensation, such as its colonial subjects, as well as those within Europe’s presumptive geographical borders who were perceived as remaining stuck in the past or were deemed unassimilable. But it is too simplistic to view the discourse of religion as a “discourse of othering.” Running alongside the former is a discourse of assimilation, which valorizes religion as a reservoir of social cohesion, meaning, and morality. Whereas for the otherizing discourse, the Orientalist representation of Islam provides the paradigm of religion, in the more celebratory account the paradigm is an idealized form of liberal Protestant Christianity. If the former is represented as antagonistic to the secular, the latter is its fraternal twin, having developed in tandem with it. Up through the mid-nineteenth century, Masuzawa writes, Europeans “had a well-established convention for categorizing the peoples of the world into four parts, rather unequal in size and uneven in specificity, namely Christians, Jews, Mohammedans (as Muslims were commonly called then), and the rest. This last part, the rest, comprised those variously known as heathens, pagans, idolaters, or sometimes polytheists” (Masuzawa 2005, xi). However, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the displacement of this hierarchical taxonomy by a flatter, apparently more inclusive paradigm—that of the so-called “world religions.” The appeal of this assimilationist discourse derived in part from its ability to secure the validity of Christianity against the perceived threat of encroaching secularity. Although the differentiation of society into discrete and autonomous spheres had decisively broken the cultural hegemony of the church, it also granted religion a protected space of its own. As Asad notes, the new concept of religion as a distinct and properly private sphere “is at once part of a strategy (for secular liberals) of the confinement, and (for liberal Christians) of the defense of religion” (Asad 1993, 28). For late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theologians, insistence on the universality of religion and its irreducibility served an apologetic function; Christianity was no longer the world religion, but it was a world religion, a member of an elite class whose value to civilization warranted special protections by the state. MODERN TIMES It is clear that the development of the category of religion was coextensive with the development not simply of the concept of secularity as what religion is not—that is, the state, the economy—but of secularity as a regime of knowledge and power. The conception of religion and secularity as dimensions of space—for example, the public sphere; the notion of secularity as encroaching on religion, or of the latter as ceding ground to the former—are distinctively secular notions. By invoking secularity twice—as that which is counterposed to religion, as well as the context that makes possible this very framing—I hope to call attention to a pervasive and otherwise largely invisible feature of a certain modern present. This latter sense of the secular is not one that can be contrasted with the religious. After all, the distinction between the secular and the religious belongs to the secular view itself. The fact that we have no obvious antonym for the epistemic meaning of the secular attests to just how ubiquitous and hegemonic this frame of reference has become. What would it mean to put this secular framing in question—to make it an object, rather than simply the context, of analysis? The emergent field of “secular studies” aspires to do just this, but it is limited by virtue of the fact that it too operates from the unquestioned standpoint of the secular episteme. It is often easier to get a critical grasp on an otherwise naturalized outlook by historicizing it, but our problem, as noted earlier, is precisely that the concept of history too is secular in precisely the same sense we are trying to historicize. But here, I suggest, an opening presents itself. If, as I have argued, the development of secularity in the epistemic sense involved, inter alia, a transformation in how time was understood, it might be possible to think of this unanalyzed dimension of secularity as temporal—that is, as the time in which the secular and the religious are spaced. It is, I want to suggest, partly through the receding of time into the background of the contemporary imaginary that space has come to structure our experience in novel ways—a phenomenon Fredric Jameson has described as the “spatialization of time” (Jameson 2007).7 In a similar vein, Foucault has noted that “the present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space” (Foucault 1986, 22). “In any case,” he wrote, “I believe that the anxiety of our era has to do fundamentally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space” (Foucault 1986, 23). The world we inhabit, he adds, is not “a homogeneous and empty space” (Foucault 1986, 23). And yet, these qualities—homogeneity and emptiness—are precisely those which, according to Benjamin, characterize a secular temporal imaginary. Moreover, it is this conception of time that relegates it to the periphery of the visual field. That is to say, it is a certain understanding of time that makes possible the foregrounding of space. After all, as Foucault notes, “space itself has a history in Western experience, and it is not possible to disregard the fatal intersection of time with space” (Foucault 1986, 22). It is thus in some ways ironic that Foucault’s remarks on space are widely credited with having inaugurated a “spatial turn” in the human sciences, since they might also be read as calling attention to the under-theorization of the phenomenology of time that makes space appear “to form the horizon of our concerns”—time as the “epoch of space” (Foucault 1986, 22). Suppose then we approach the problem of secularity by inquiring not into the fate of religion in modernity per se but rather into the character of modern time as that time in which religion occupies space? What time is the secular? Here I can at most gesture briefly toward some of the inter-connected modalities of time associated with the spaces of modernity noted earlier—the nation-state, the market, and religion itself.8 The Time of the Nation-State Understandings of time are always implicated in institutions and practices. The transition noted earlier from a Christian to a secular understanding of time involved, among other things, a change of management: it was not simply that the church lost control of time, but that the state acquired it. Koselleck writes, “The genesis of the absolutist state is accompanied by a sporadic struggle against all manner of religious and political predictions. The state enforced a monopoly on the control of the future by suppressing apocalyptic and astrological readings of the future. In doing so, it assumed a function of the old Church for anti-Church objectives” (Koselleck 2004, 16). What replaced prophecy and figural interpretation were political calculation and rational prognosis. Where apocalypticism allowed for the future to interrupt the present, “prognosis implies a diagnosis which introduces the past into the future” (Koselleck 2004, 22). By flattening time by means of inductive inference and extrapolation from the past, the state could undercut claims to authority grounded in higher times. “Neither the One Big End of the World nor the several smaller ones could apparently affect the course of human affairs. Instead of the anticipated millennium, a new and different temporal perspective had opened up” (Koselleck 2004, 17). In Orhan Pamuk’s 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, the narrator, a wealthy, secular Turkish businessman hopelessly in love with a poor distant relation, describes a sense of collective belonging made possible by clocks, watches, and television schedules: Fusun did not adjust her watch because life as she lived it called for a clock that was accurate to the second, so that she could be punctual for work or some meetings; like her father, the retired civil servant, she did so as a way of acceding to a directive signaled to her straight from Ankara and the state, or so it seemed to me. We looked at the clock that appeared on the screen before the news much as we looked at the flag that appeared on the screen, while the national anthem was playing at the end of the broadcasting day: As we sat in our patch of the world, preparing to eat supper or bring the evening to a close by turning off the television, we felt the presence of millions of other families, all doing likewise, and the throng that was the nation, and the power of what we called the state, and our own insignificance. (Pamuk 2009, 287) The phenomenon of simultaneity evoked in Pamuk’s novel is discussed by Benedict Anderson, who observes that it is a central feature not only of the novel as a distinctively modern literary form—in which various “acts are performed at the same clocked, calendrical time, but by actors who may be largely unaware of one another” (Anderson 1991, 26)9—but also of the nation itself: The idea of a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogeneous, empty time is a precise analogue of the idea of the nation, which also is conceived as a solid community moving steadily down (or up) history. An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his . . . fellow-Americans. He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time. But he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity. (Anderson 1991, 26) Located within a community imagined via mass media, one “feels the presence” of millions of others, “all doing likewise.” Taylor argues that this conception of a unified national history enabled the transition of subjects to democratic citizens: A purely secular time-understanding allows us to imagine society “horizontally,” unrelated to any “high points,” where the ordinary sequence of events touches higher time, and therefore without recognizing any privileged persons or agencies—such as kings or priests—who stand and mediate at such alleged points. This radical horizontality is precisely what is implied in the direct access society, where each member is “immediate to the whole.” (Taylor 2007, 714) But as Anderson notes, this “deep, horizontal comradeship” is also what made it possible, “over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings” (Anderson 1991, 7). As Paul Kahn observes, the popular sovereign, understood as trans-temporal subject, is an imagined community defined by sacrificial violence (Kahn 2011, 23). Insofar as the nation-state is conceived as a primary locus of self-transcendence in modernity, national history might thus be seen as taking on some of the functions of the salvation history it has displaced. (See, e.g., Halbertal, 2012, 104ff.) The Time of the Market On Anderson’s account, the structural similarity between the novel and the nation is not coincidental: the origins of nationalism are rooted in the “meanwhile” made possible by “print capitalism”—by, for example, popular novels and national newspapers.10 Pamuk’s novel—itself a transnational triumph of print capitalism—suggests that by the mid-seventies, when the passage quoted above is set, television had replaced newspapers as the vehicle of transverse simultaneity (to itself eventually being eclipsed by the accelerated interconnectivity of digital capitalism).11 But the time of the nation remains bound to the time of the market. That modern time has been indelibly marked by the spirit of capitalism is suggested by Benjamin Franklin’s aphorism that “time is money”; it can be “spent” and should not be wasted. Here too we can detect the doctrine of time’s homogeneity: like money, it is liquid; each moment is fungible, replaceable by another, and holidays—no longer anchored vertically to “higher time”—can be rescheduled as needed. The time of the market is nevertheless a horizon within which growth and progress are assumed to be normative, and here too we find a connection between the time of the market and that of the state. Whereas markets are often assumed to be hostile to regulation by government, Jane I. Guyer points out that that monetarism—the economic theory underlying what is popularly referred to as “neoliberalism”—assigns the state the critical role of stabilizing these horizons by regulating the money supply. This, then, becomes the basis for recuperation of the long run as a viable working horizon: focus on a continuing stable value of money (particularly in capital markets, through the interest rate), faith in freed-up market forces to produce innovation, and calculation by increasingly sophisticated mathematics and model building, all complemented by a whole range of financial instruments that address (and take advantage of) market risk. If extra-market influences on capital and profit, such as currency inflation and unstable conditions in the world, can be limited by state policy and financial institutions, then conditions for investment can favour the kind of growth and “progress” through markets that Adam Smith predicted and that have been reiterated down through the ages since. (Guyer 2007, 412) It is interesting to note here in passing that the “long run” that forms the neoliberal horizon is sometimes referred to by economists as “secular,” as, for example, when Larry Summers warned in 2013 of the dangers of “secular stagnation”—that is, the long-term slowing of GDP growth (Summers 2013). Here the term is being used not in contrast to “religion,” but in its temporal sense, as denoting the long arc of history. It is this time of the market for which the state is at least partly responsible. If the time of the nation-state makes possible the sense of the individual as citizen, the time of the market is also productive of certain modes of modern subjectivity. Guyer notes that monetarism is premised on a “combination of rational choice in the very short run, growth in the very long run, and ‘submission’ in the interim” (Guyer 2007, 413). On such a view, the “near future”—that mid-range of time once thematized by the economic “five-year plan”—is largely evacuated.12 To put it differently, neoliberalism privatizes the near future and socializes the distant horizon, eclipsing in the process the in-between zone of collective political agency (Guyer 2007, 411).13 “So, through the concept of growth and the technologies for management of the money supply, monetarism moves the near future out of the kind of limelight that it once occupied in economic theory and, at the same time, evokes a strange new economic subject: one who can be rational, submissive, ingenious, and infinitely desirous all at the same time” (Guyer 2007, 413).13 The Time of Religion The state and the market are conventionally understood to be secular, in contrast to religion. But if, as I argued earlier, “religion” is a secular category—a constitutive feature of the modern imaginary—then our inquiry into the time of religion is also an inquiry into the self-understanding of secularity in what I have called the epistemic sense. My interest here, in other words, is not so much in how so-called “religious” people experience time, but rather in how the secular regime of knowledge positions “religion” within its own temporal schema. What “time” is implied by the spatialization of religion? Because the modern, secular imaginary—unlike earlier conceptions of social order—cannot legitimate itself by appealing to higher time, it tends, as Benjamin noted, toward progressivist modes of self-narration. Taylor writes: The sense that the present . . . order is right has to be expressed in terms that consort with this understanding of time. We can no longer describe it as the emergence of a self-realizing order lodged in higher time. The category that is at home in secular time is rather that of growth, maturation, drawn from the organic realm. . . . So history can be understood, for instance, as the slow growth of a human capacity, reason, fighting against error and superstition. (Taylor 2004, 175–76) Indeed, the idea of progress that emerged toward the end of the eighteenth century can be understood as compensating for the loss of an eschaton. As Koselleck puts it, “Progress occurred to the extent that the state and its prognostication was never able to satisfy soteriological demands which persisted within a state whose own existence depended upon the elimination of millenarian expectation” (Koselleck 2004, 21). As noted already, the emergence of the modern conception of religion as a bounded sphere coincided with the sense that religion, at least in the West, was in retreat. Because it was the decline of the role of the church as mediator of time that allowed for the invention of religion as a domain of space, religion is always seen as in its twilight; it is visible as such only from a vantage point that imagines itself to have transcended it, at least conceptually. Religion thus has the curious distinction of being anachronistic in its own age. It becomes an object only as it comes into view as circumscribed by what is not religion, with the result that the past is always supposed to have been more pervasively religious—its religion more encompassing—than the present. Correspondingly, those cultures to which the Western concept of religion was foreign have tended to be viewed as most religious, and hence least “developed.” As Edward Said famously showed, they were invariably portrayed as survivals from the past, the ubiquitous religiosity of which was viewed as a stumbling block to the “rational” use of time as money.14 These ideas continue to be heard today, for example in the oft-repeated claim that Islam has not yet undergone a reformation or passed through an enlightenment. What we see here is that the (past) time of religion underwrites the (present) time of the state and the market—and more broadly the spatial configuration of Western “modernity” (the term itself is telling)—by providing a sort of contrast case—an imagined “other” with which the secular spheres can be contrasted. Notice that the temporal contrast drawn within the secular regime is not the contrast I drew earlier between this regime and that of the medievals. Rather, it is a specter projected for purposes of self-legitimation. Religious time belongs, we might say, to the deep mythology of the secular regime of knowledge as a sort of origin story. Religion—that is to say, its presumed displacement—is what makes modernity modern. (This is one, though not the only, reason why it is hard to imagine a modern lexicon from which “religion” has been excised.) If the secular requires religion for purposes of legitimation, something like the converse is also the case: religion, in its contemporary sense, looks to secular history as an independent (source of) authority. The detachment of secular history from biblical narrative described by Frei allowed the former to act not simply as a check on the latter, but as a purportedly neutral point of reference in religious disagreements. For instance, in her reconstruction of the debate in Egypt surrounding the publication of Azazeel, a 2009 novel by Youssef Ziedan that sparked a controversy between its Muslim author and those, including Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishoy, who objected to its representation of Christianity, Saba Mahmood calls attention to “the inordinate weight secular conceptions of history and temporality command in religious narratives today” (Mahmood 2016, 197). The debate hinged in part on the historical veracity of the novel’s depictions of the fourth and fifth centuries, when a theological controversy over Christ’s two natures led to a schism in Christianity that shaped Coptic Orthodoxy. Commenting on the controversy, Mahmood writes, “Note that, despite their disagreement, both Ziedan and Bishoy purport to describe ecumenical events located in calendrical (linear, empty, homogenous) rather than sacral time, and each posits a distinction between the factuality of events as they ‘really happened’ and their narrative meaning” (Mahmood 2016, 197). In other words, “both subscribe to the secular assumption that for revelation to be persuasive it must be commensurate with historical truth” (Mahmood 2016, 182–83). Part of what is significant here is the extent to which historical consciousness has penetrated and inflected emic religious understandings, but it is also worth noting, more fundamentally, that secular time functions as a condition of religion’s very possibility—as part of the background against which it is possible to pick religion out as a discrete phenomenon and to articulate and adjudicate religious difference.15 AFTER SECULAR TIME? However crucial to the modern Western imaginary the boundary between the secular and the religious may be, its precise location is always in dispute. Can something similar be said of modernity’s temporal horizons? If I may be permitted some highly speculative remarks at the conclusion of an admittedly already speculative paper, I would venture the observation that secular time is today under considerable pressure, and that herein lies the possibility of taking its measure. Secular time represents itself as an infinite horizon, and thus as the inescapable context of thought and experience. So construed, it seems to elude our grasp, encircling our thinking as its transcendental condition. To be made sense of as an object of study and critique in the way that “religion” is an object for modernity, secular time would need to be framed by something other than itself: it would have to be grasped from the point of view, so to speak, of some eschatological limit. Religion, being a constituent element of the secular imaginary, cannot itself provide such a perspective. Are there limits to the secular? Does secularity contain the traces of a “constitutive outside”?16 Here we might again find ourselves tempted by dubious spatial metaphors, but suppose, following Benjamin’s lead, we imagine these limits as ruptures rather than as boundaries, that is, as events. If secular time defined the limits of our consciousness, there would be little sense in attempting to escape it. But Benjamin’s suggestion in his Thirteenth Thesis on the Philosophy of History is that “homogeneous, empty time” is less our actual context than a sort of ideological horizon—an artificial construct (like the elaborate sound-stage in the film The Truman Show)—and indeed one that is always being interrupted. After noting that the idea of historical progress depends on such a view of time, Benjamin remarks, in Thesis Fourteen, that, in fact, “history is the subject of a structure whose site is not homogeneous, empty time, but time filled by the presence of the now” (Benjamin 1968, 261, italics mine). He goes on to suggest that this “time of the now” is “shot through with chips of Messianic time” (Benjamin 1968, 263). Benjamin’s reference here is not to the Christian conception of the “fullness” of kairotic moments, but rather to the Jewish idea—with which the Christian nevertheless shares important similarities in comparison with the secular account—that “every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter” (Benjamin 1968, 264). In W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz, the narrator recalls the following conversation with the title character: Could we not claim, said Austerlitz, that time itself has been nonconcurrent over the centuries and the millennia? It is not so long ago, after all, that it began spreading out over everything. And is not human life in many parts of the earth governed to this day less by time than by the weather, and thus by an unquantifiable dimension which disregards linear regularity, does not progress constantly forward but moves in eddies, is marked by episodes of congestion and irruption, recurs in ever-changing form, and evolves in no one knows what direction? (Sebald 2001, 100–101)17 Whereas, in the quote from The Museum of Innocence referenced earlier, Pamuk’s narrator describes the experience of being caught up within the simultaneous progress of the nation-state, Sebald’s protagonist—a Czech Jew brought to the United Kingdom in the Kindertransport—has never owned a clock or watch: even in “a metropolis ruled by time,” Austerlitz says, “it is still possible to be outside time” (Sebald 2001, 101). Time, Sebald’s character suggests, is not as homogeneous and empty—nor national identity as untroubled—as we have been taught to think. Beneath the smooth veneer of the secular chronology that has been “spreading out over everything” lies something less linear and easily quantifiable. In Austerlitz and other books by Sebald, this alternative temporal imaginary is not simply described, but also performed. If, as Anderson tells us, the novel as a literary form embodies secular time, Sebald’s writing responds to the traumas of the twentieth century—including the Holocaust/Shoah—not least in challenging this modern narrative structure. His books, which often blend historical fact with fiction and words with images, move in eddies, circling around the displacements of the not-so-distant past and reclaiming le temps perdu from historical oblivion. Eschewing progressive narratives, they destabilize narratives of progress. Judith Butler has argued that the problem with the secular understanding of time is “not that there are different temporalities in different cultural locations (and that, accordingly, we simply need to broaden our cultural frameworks to become more internally complicated and capacious)” (Butler 2009, 17). To adopt such a view would be to problematically treat “cultures” as discrete, bounded wholes. Rather, she argues, “the problem is that certain notions of relevant geopolitical space—including the spatial boundedness of minority communities—are circumscribed by this story of a progressive modernity; certain notions of what ‘this time’ can and must be are simply construed on the basis of circumscribing the ‘where’ of its happening” (Butler 2009, 17–18). Riffing on Benjamin’s theses, Butler argues that “to separate the ‘now time’ from these claims of modernity is to undercut the temporal framework that uncritically supports state power, its legitimating effect, and its coercive instrumentalities” (Butler 2009, 36–37). To reconceive of time is a political act, and Homi Bhabha has suggested that it is on the margins of the nation-state and its attendant temporal imaginary that such a politics might be able to take root, challenging “the spatial fantasy of modern cultural communities as living their history ‘contemporaneously,’ in a ‘homogeneous empty time’ of the People-as-One” (Bhabha 1994, 358).18 By bringing into view “the ambivalent historical temporality of modern national cultures—the aporetic coexistence, within the cultural history of the modern imagined community, of both the dynastic, hierarchical, prefigurative ‘medieval’ traditions (the past), and the secular, homogeneous, synchronous cross-time of modernity (the present),” a subaltern account of “disjunctive temporality,” attentive to the disruptive potential poised just beneath the placid surface of secular time, would constitute what Benjamin called a critique of “the concept of progress itself” (Bhabha 1994, 358–59).19 CONCLUSION To attempt a critique of progress is not, Butler notes, to disavow “any and all ways of looking forward,” but to acknowledge that discussions about the “place” of religion in the modern world are never altogether free from questions of civilizational politics (Butler 2009, 29). If secularity in the epistemic sense is bound up with the spatial demarcation of the religious, then calling attention to the syncopated, anachronistic temporality of the present not only unsettles the ideology of homogeneous, empty time but also “complicates any firm distinctions we might have between the secular and the religious” (Butler 2009, 21).20 I am grateful to Lucia Hulsether for an insightful response to an earlier version of this paper delivered in the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society at Yale University. I would also like to thank Ward Blanton, Paul W. Kahn, Méadhbh McIvor, and Yvonne Sherwood for helpful feedback. Finally, thanks are due to two anonymous reviewers whose careful reading has helped to improve the paper. REFERENCES Anderson , Benedict . 1991 . Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism . Revised ed. London : Verso . Asad , Talal . 1993 . Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam . Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press . Auerbach , Erich . 1955 . Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Thought . Translated by Willard R. Trask . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Augustine . 1961 . Confessions . Translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin . New York : Penguin Books . Benjamin , Walter . 1968 . “ Theses on the Philosophy of History .” In Illuminations , edited by Hannah Arendt , translated by Harry Zohn. New York : Schoken Books . ——. 1986 . “ Theologico-Political Fragment .” In Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings , edited by Peter Demetz . New York : Schocken Books . Bhabha , Homi K . 1994 . The Location of Culture . New York : Routledge . Blumenberg , Hans . 1987 . The Genesis of the Copernican World . Translated by Robert M. Wallace . Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press . Judith Butler . 2009 . “ Sexual Politics, Torture, and Secular Time .” In Intimate Citizenships: Gender, Sexualities, Politics , edited by Elżbieta H. Oleksy . New York : Routledge . Casanova , José . 1994 . Public Religions in the Modern World . Chicago : University of Chicago Press . Cavanaugh , William T . 2009 . The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict . New York : Oxford University Press . Connolly , William E . 2008 . Capitalism and Christianity, American Style . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Dubuisson , Daniel . 2003 . The Western Construction of Religion: Myths, Knowledge, and Ideology . Translated William Sayers . Baltimore : The Johns Hopkins University Press . East , Ben . 2012 . “ Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan: review .” The Guardian , 28 April. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/29/azazeel-youssef-ziedan-book-review. Accessed July 20, 2017 . Fitzgerald , Timothy . 2000 . The Ideology of Religious Studies . New York : Oxford University Press . Foucault , Michel . 1986 . “ Of Other Spaces, ” translated by Jay Miscowiec . Diacritics 16 ( 1 ): 22 – 7 . Frei , Hans W . 1974 . The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics . New Haven, CT : Yale University Press . Guyer , Jane I . 2007 . “ Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on Macroeconomic, Evangelical, and Punctuated Time .” American Ethnologist 34 ( 3 ): 409 – 21 . Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS Halbertal , Moshe . 2012 . On Sacrifice . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Innerarity , Daniel . 2012 . The Future and Its Enemies . Translated by Sandra Kingery . Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press . Jameson , Fredric . 2007 . Jameson on Jameson: Conversations on Cultural Marxism . Edited by Ian Buchanan . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Kahn , Paul W . 2011 . Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty . New York : Columbia University Press . Knott , Kim . 2005 . “ Spatial Theory and Method for the Study of Religion .” Temenos 41 ( 2 ): 153 – 84 . Koselleck , Reinhart . 2004 . Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time . Translated by Keith Tribe . New York : Columbia University Press . Leshem , Dotan . 2016 . The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault . New York : Columbia University Press . Lloyd , Vincent W . 2016 . “ Introduction: Managing Race, Managing Religion .” In Race and Secularism in America , edited by Jonathon S. Kahn and Vincent W. Lloyd , 2–19. New York : Columbia University Press . Mahmood , Saba . 2016 . Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Mamdani , Mahmood . 2004 . Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, The Cold War, and the Roots of Terror . New York : Doubleday . Masuzawa , Tomoko . 2005 . The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism . Chicago : The University of Chicago Press . Mouffe , Chantal . 2000 . The Democratic Paradox . London : Verso . Pamuk , Orhan . 2009 . The Museum of Innocence . Translated by Maureen Freely . New York : Alfred A. Knopf . Rosa , Hartmut . 2003 . “ Social Acceleration: Ethical and Political Consequences of a Desynchronized High-Speed Society .” Constellations 10 ( 1 ): 3 – 33 . Google Scholar Crossref Search ADS Said , Edward W . 1979 . Orientalism . New York : Vintage Books . Sebald , W. G . 2001 . Austerlitz . Translated by Anthea Bell . New York : Random House . Stroumsa , Guy G . 2010 . A New Science: The Discovery of Religion in the Age of Reason . Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press . Summers , Larry . 2013 . “IMF Fourteenth Annual Research Conference in Honor of Stanley Fischer.” 8 November. Available at http://larrysummers.com/imf-fourteenth-annual-research-conference-in-honor-of-stanley-fischer/. Accessed July 20, 2017 . Taylor , Charles . 2007 . A Secular Age . Cambridge, MA : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press . ——. 2004 . Modern Social Imaginaries . Durham, NC : Duke University Press . Footnotes 1 Here I use the term “hegemony” to mark the dominance of a particular regime of knowledge. Edward Said writes, “In any society not totalitarian, then, certain cultural forms predominate over others, just as certain ideas are more influential than others; the form of this cultural leadership is what Antonio Gramsci has identified as hegemony, an indispensable concept for any understanding of cultural life in the industrial West” (Said 1979, 7). 2 In fact, there is a connection here, which under present constraints I am able to note only in passing: secular modernity is racialized and gendered. Thus, Vincent W. Lloyd observes that “whiteness is secular, and the secular is white” (Lloyd 2016, 5). Indeed, secularity can be theorized as a technology of racial and gender control. 3 The common formula that, for the Greeks, time was cyclical, whereas Christianity introduced the idea of linearity, while gesturing at something important, is nevertheless overly simplistic. As Hans Blumenberg notes, the Christian idea of history can also be understood as “the reduction of Stoicism’s world-repetitions to one phase” (Blumenberg 1987, 453). Moreover, the notion of circularity did not necessarily entail a rejection of linearity. For example, in Aristotle’s view, the circle functions as a measuring device (a cycle), but what is measured can be represented linearly (Blumenberg 1987, 454). There were, however, important differences between Aristotle’s conception of time and that of the medievals. Blumenberg notes that Aristotle sought to render time uniform by denying the intelligibility of speaking of its having a beginning or end. God is invoked, in Aristotle’s metaphysics, not as creator of the world but as its objective observer, and hence guarantor of time: in effect, time is a function of God’s measurement of it (Blumenberg 1987, 438–39, 455). For the scholastics, by contrast, time belonged to creation: “it is not something that impinges and is decreed from outside; instead, it belongs to the inner structure of things” (Blumenberg 1987, 458). This move had the effect of dissociating time from measurability: “the assumption, by dogma, that time had a beginning and an end made the ontological insistence on absolute uniformity impossible” (Blumenberg 1987, 459). 4 What follows is intended as a conceptual, rather than historical, sketch. With respect to ongoing debates among historians and genealogists as to how these shifts took place, and where precisely to mark them, I remain largely agnostic. In any case, the transition described here was clearly not an all-or-nothing affair, and it is possible to find exceptions to the dominant temporal imaginaries and traces of rival ways of thinking (a point to which I return later in the paper). Moreover, as I note, the discipline of history might, for conceptual reasons, prove methodologically inadequate to giving a full account of its own transcendental conditions. 5 It has been said that we always talk about time using spatial metaphors (Blumenberg 1987, 437). 6 Alternatively, Christianity was sometimes positioned (e.g., by comparative theologians) as the culmination of progressive religious development. 7 “Time,” Jameson contends, “has become a perpetual present and thus spatial” (Jameson 2007, 47). Similarly, Taylor writes, “In a sense, time has been ‘spatialized’” (Taylor 2004, 206, n16). 8 By no means do I claim that these spaces are exhaustive. 9 In a footnote, Anderson adds, “Nothing better shows the immersion of the novel in homogeneous, empty time than the absence of those prefatory genealogies, often ascending to the origin of man, which are so characteristic a feature of ancient chronicles, legends, and holy books” (Anderson 1991, 26, n39). 10 It is interesting to note here the sense of newspapers as Zeitungen: many papers contain the word “times” in their titles, and some languages preserve the link to the secular: for instance, O Século (“The Century”) was a Portuguese newspaper published in Lisbon from 1881 to 1977. 11 Note that the internet, while enabling globalization, is itself divided along national and linguistic lines. At the same time, digital capitalism enables networks of affiliation and sympathy that cut across national lines, fragmenting national cultures and enabling new forms of identity. 12 Capitalism is also associated with another feature of modern time, namely acceleration. Hartmut Rosa has noted that “the functioning of the capitalist system rests on the accelerating circulation of goods and capital in a growth-oriented society” (Rosa 2003, 11–12). Rosa argues that the development of the capitalist framework can itself be located within a broader cultural shift in what a fulfilled life was taken to consist in: “The eudaimonistic promise of modern acceleration thus appears to be a functional equivalent to religious ideas of eternity or ‘eternal life,’ and the acceleration of ‘the pace of life’ represents the modern answer to the problem of finitude and death” (Rosa 2003, 13). 13 The infinitely desirous subject of neoliberal economic theory corresponds to what Leshem characterizes as a “radicalization of the Christian theory of economic growth”: “the shift that occurred with the marketization of the Christian economy is not the expulsion of God from the economy but rather the indiscriminate ascription of His divine ability to generate insatiable desires, which, in turn, generate an unlimited growth. . . . [W]hat we are really confronted with is the divinization of each and every object of desire” (Leshem 2016, 168). 14 For example, “Renan had called the Semites an instance of arrested development, and functionally speaking this came to mean that for the Orientalist no modern Semite, however much he may have believed himself to be modern, could ever outdistance the organizing claims on him of his origins” (Said 1979, 234). 15 Reviews of the novel’s English language translation are notable for the way they framed the Egyptian debate. For example, The Guardian’s Ben East writes, “Distance and secularity suggest most English-speaking readers are likely to approach the novel (superbly translated by Jonathan Wright) with slightly less baggage. And, in fact, for all the trouble caused by his expertly researched nods to the internecine struggles within the nascent church, Ziedan seems to be calling for harmony and understanding in religious thought. He merely underlines how ridiculous—and yet dangerous—squabbles between religious sects can be” (East 2012). In addition to emphasizing the novel’s historicity, East’s framing underscores the conceptualization of religion as belonging to the West’s violent, irrational past and its contemporary nonsecular others. 16 For an articulation of the Derridean concept of the constitutive outside, see Mouffe 2000, 12. 17 Austerlitz meditates frequently on the experience of time, toying with the ideas “that all moments of time have co-existed simultaneously” (Sebald 2001, 101) and “all the moments of our life occupy the same space” (Sebald 2001, 257). 18 Daniel Innerarity has coined the term “chronopolitics” to refer to the politics of time-control. He notes that a “critical theory of society should ask itself: who can place other people, societies, or social subsystems under time constraints?” (Innerarity 2012, 106). 19 Here it might also be argued that the possibility of political action depends on being able to reclaim the sort of “near future” eclipsed by neoliberal time. The political theorist William E. Connolly, who emphasizes time as a process of becoming, argues that “the importance of projecting an interim future is in part tied to our inability in a world of becoming to imagine constructively beyond an interim horizon, in part to the urgent need to relieve the suffering of several constituencies soon, and in part to the short time left to come to terms with the devastating potential of global warming” (Connolly 2008, 94). 20 It is worth noting here that on Benjamin’s account, the relation between history and the Messianic is not progressive: the latter belongs to an altogether different order than the former. Benjamin writes, “Only the Messiah himself consummates all history, in the sense that he alone redeems, completes, creates its relation to the Messianic. For this reason nothing historical can relate itself on its own account to anything Messianic. Therefore the Kingdom of God is not the telos of the historical dynamic; it cannot be set as a goal” (Benjamin 1986, 312). It is on this ground that Benjamin rejects the idea of a political theocracy. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)

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Published: Sep 1, 2018

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