Embodiment, Meaning and the Anthropology of Religion
AbstractSince the events of September 11, 2001, the role of religion in modern
political life, and its implication with “terrorism”, has come under scrutiny.
In particular, this discussion has relied on a distinction between Islam and
a secular modern West. This article revisits an important debate between
two eminent anthropologists of religion, Clifford Geertz and Talal Asad, in
order to clarify the conceptual and political stakes involved in the
contemporary conceptions of secularism as a distinct form which defines
the modern political community. It questions the self-evident nature of this
distinction by considering the historical genealogy of religion as a discrete
domain of social life.