Religions and their publics

Guest edited by James Bielo and Eric Hoenes, the essays in this series explore the regimes of representation and social engagement through which various Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities create, maintain, contest, and materialize their visions of the public sphere. Engaging questions of public religion from the vantage point of anthropology of religion, the series takes up themes of state secularisms, theological-political subjectivity, sensorial practice, law, gender, mass media, and religious publicity, and examines how local communities make use of material, semiotic, and moral resources (including resources shared as citizens of a secular polity) to delineate the nature of their role in and in relation to public life.

Given that modern secular societies legitimize some version of religious pluralism, the collection gives critical attention to cases in which multiple institutions or regimes make competing claims upon the same publics. By examining intra- and inter-religious sites of contestation, the essays highlights the boundaries, interstitial spaces, strategies, and resources through which the categories of “religious” and “secular” are constructed and harnessed to impact public life.

The discussion is well-suited for use in courses dealing with issues of religion, secularism, and/or the public sphere and our guest editors suggest this teaching guide as an aid for course use.