Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference

Edited by Linell E. Cady and Tracy Fessenden

Columbia University Press

Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference

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Pub Date: November 2013

ISBN: 9780231162494

344 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: November 2013

ISBN: 9780231162487

344 Pages

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List Price: $105.00£87.95

Pub Date: November 2013

ISBN: 9780231536042

344 Pages

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Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference

Edited by Linell E. Cady and Tracy Fessenden

Columbia University Press

Global struggles over women's roles, rights, and dress increasingly cast the secular and the religious in tense if not violent opposition. When advocates for equality speak in terms of rights and modern progress, or reactionaries ground their authority in religious and scriptural appeals, both tend to presume women's emancipation is ineluctably tied to secularization. Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference upsets this certainty by drawing on diverse voices and traditions in studies that historicize, question, and test the implicit links between secularism and expanded freedoms for women. Rather than position secularism as the answer to conflicts over gender and sexuality, this volume shows both religion and the secular collaborate in creating the conditions that generate them.
This exciting volume defamiliarizes our understanding of secularization as process and practice. The contributors raise profound questions regarding the persistence of 'the religious' as a form of ethicality, as a resistant presence and practice, and as an animating constraint in women's lives. The theoretical range and global scope of the volume is a remarkable achievement. Anupama Rao, Barnard College
Rather than taking what is often viewed as the high road of secularism, the contributors challenge the ability of both religion and secularism to provide master narratives for the equality of women. This book is a vital contribution to the new feminism that is currently emerging at local, national, and global levels. It opens space for new collaborations and theoretical innovations and encourages us to 'imagine differently.' Lori G. Beaman, University of Ottawa
Many feminists have hoped–and many fundamentalists have feared–that the decline of religion would lead inevitably to women's liberation. This bold, thought-provoking book shows how, around the world, the gender politics of secularism are confounding the easy assumptions of progressives and conservatives alike. Joseph Kip Kosek, George Washington University
This book both genders and shatters the divide between the secular and the religious in a global context. By historicizing the privatization of both women and religion in modernity, these essays unhinge any simple alignment between feminism and secularism. Cady and Fessenden have produced a collection that coheres, a must read for scholars of gender and all those engaged with the question of the secular. Laura S. Levitt, Temple University
Preface and Acknowledgments
Part 1 by Gendering the Divide
1. Religion, the Secular, and the Politics of Sexual Difference: An Introduction, by Linell E. Cady and Tracy Fessenden
2. Secularism and Gender Equality, by Joan Wallach Scott
3. Sexuality and Secularism, by Saba Mahmood
4. Must It Be Either Secular or Religious? Reflections on the Contemporary Journeys of Women's Rights Activists in Egypt, by Azza Karam
5. Religion and Women's Political Mobilization, by Ann Braude
Part 2 by Gender and the Privatization of Religion
6. Secular Liberalism, Roman Catholicism, and Social Hierarchies: Understanding Multiple Paths, by Gene Burns
7. Gendering the Secular and Religious in Modern Egypt: Woman, Family, and Nation, by Margot Badran
8. Women, Religion, and Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Zilka Spahi?-Šiljak
Part 3 by Gender, Sexuality, and the Body Politic
9. Bodies-Politics: Christian Secularism and the Gendering of U.S. Policy, by Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini
10. Crimes of Moral Turpitude: Questions at the Borders of Religion, the Secular, and the U.S. Nation-State, by Molly K. McGarry
11. On French Religions and Their Renewed Embodiments, by Nacira Guénif-Souilamas
Part 4 by Bridging the Divide
12. Rescued by Law? Gender and the Global Politics of Secularism, by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd
13. The Brahmin Widow and Female Religious Agency: Anticaste Critique in Two Modern Indian Texts, by Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
14. Issues with Authority: Feminist Commitments in a Late Secular Age, by David Kyuman Kim
Bibliography
Contributors
Index

Read the chapter, "Gendering the Divide," by Linell E. Cady and Tracy Fessenden

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About the Author

Linell E. Cady is professor of religious studies and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University.

Tracy Fessenden is associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University.