Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech

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Fordham University Press, 2013 - Philosophy - 148 pages
In this volume, four leading thinkers of our times confront the paradoxes and dilemmas attending the supposed stand-off between Islam and liberal democratic values. Taking the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammad as a point of departure, Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood inquire into the evaluative frameworks at stake in understanding the conflicts between blasphemy and free speech, between religious taboos and freedoms of thought and expression, and between secular and religious world views. Is the language of the law an adequate mechanism for the adjudication of such conflicts? What other modes of discourse are available for the navigation of such differences in multicultural and multi-religious societies? What is the role of critique in such an enterprise? These are among the pressing questions this volume addresses.

About the author (2013)

Talal Asad was born in Saudi Arabia and educated in Britain. He now teaches anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Wendy Brown is Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also affiliated with the Program in Critical Theory. Among her many book titles are Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Empire and Identity (Princeton University Press, 2006), Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (Zone Books, 2010), Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015), and In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Anti-Democratic Politics in the West (Columbia University Press, 2019). Judith Butler is Distinguished Professor in the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. Their books include What World Is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology (2022); The Force of Nonviolence (2020); Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015); Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (2004); and Senses of the Subject (2015). Saba Mahmood was born in Quetta, Pakistan on February 3, 1961. She moved to the United States in 1981 to study architecture and urban planning at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received a doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University in 1998. She taught at the University of Chicago before joining the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in 2004. She was a scholar of modern Egypt who specialized in sociocultural anthropology. Her work focused on the intersection of Islam and feminist theory. She wrote several books including Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject and Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report. She died from pancreatic cancer on March 10, 2018 at the age of 57.

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