Hicks on Power, Empire, and Expansion in Studies of North American Religions

Rosemary R. Hicks (Tufts U.) has posted Between Lived and the Law: Power, Empire, and Expansion in Studies of North American Religions. The abstract follows.

Taking debates about the Park51 (or ‘Ground Zero’) mosque and Islamic Community Center as a case study, this article demonstrates the need for scholars of religious traditions in North America to move beyond liberal modes of historicizing that pluralize narratives about religion but ignore how religion is defined and regulated. Liberal modes of historicizing create space for different traditions by first naturalizing differences as ostensibly fixed, inherent, and eternal – a dynamic that has proven to produce antagonistic narratives and relations as well as ‘tolerant’ ones. This is in part due to the fact that such narratives somewhat broaden the inclusivity of the U.S. public sphere but in so doing obscure the various means and power dynamics by which the boundaries of acceptable religiosity are policed. Finally, this article examines and offers analyses that provide more robust mechanisms by which to understand issues of religious diversity and liberty in the United States.

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