Science and Secularity: Rethinking Religous Reform

Philippines Conference Room
  • Joel Kahn

This series of talks explore a number of issues which have arisen from a study of ethnogenesis, identity formation, state building, religious reform, and socio-economic "modernization" in selected regions of insular and peninsular Southeast Asia in the (late) modern period (late 19th century to the present).Clearly, none of these broad thematic areas can be adequately studied on its own.

The final talk examines the relationship between religion and secularisation, and specifically the implications of the so-called religious revival that is said to have taken place in different parts of Southeast Asia in recent years.  The main aim here is not, however, to engage in the normative debate over what constitutes a ‘proper’ relationship between religion and the modern (secular) state in modern societies – that is to contribute directly to current debates about the modern ‘public sphere’. Rather by focussing on the formation of alternative publics, he proposes to investigate relations between religion and secularity from a broadly phenomenological or experiential – rather than from a naturalist or socio-historical – perspective.

Among Joel S. Kahn’s many books are Other Malays (2006), Modernity and Exclusion (2001), Southeast Asian Identities (ed., 1998), Culture, Multiculture, Postculture (1995), and Constituting the Minangkabau (1993). His other writings include State, Region, and the Politics of Recognition (forthcoming in National Integration and Regionalism in Indonesia and Malaysia). He is an elected Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and has held appointments at Monash University and University College London, among other institutions. He serves or has served as an editorial board member of Critique of Anthropology, Current Anthropology, and Ethnicities. His doctorate is from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

A technical problem prevented the recording of Professor Kahn's third lecture.