Hampton, “Storm of Words: Science, Religion, and Evolution in the Civil War Era”

In August, University of Alabama Press will publish Storm of Words: Science, Religion, and Evolution in the Civil War Era by Monte Hampton (North Carolina State University). The publisher’s description follows.

Storm of Words is a study of the ways that southern Presbyterians in the wake of the Civil War contended with a host of cultural and theological questions, chief among them developments in natural history and evolution.

Southern Presbyterian theologians enjoyed a prominent position in antebellum southern culture. Respected for both their erudition and elite constituency, these theologians identified the southern society as representing a divine, Biblically ordained order. Beginning in the 1840s, however, this facile identification became more difficult to maintain, colliding first with antislavery polemics, then with Confederate defeat and reconstruction, and later with women’s rights, philosophical empiricism, literary criticisms of the Bible, and that most salient symbol of modernity, natural science.

As Monte Harrell Hampton shows in Storm of Words, modern science seemed most explicitly to express the rationalistic spirit of the age and threaten the Protestant conviction that science was the faithful “handmaid” of theology. Southern Presbyterians disposed of some of these threats with ease. Contemporary geology, however, posed thornier problems. Ambivalence over how to respond to geology led to the establishment in 1859 of the Perkins Professorship of Natural Science in Connexion with Revealed Religion at the seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. Installing scientist-theologian James Woodrow in this position, southern Presbyterians expected him to defend their positions.

Within twenty-five years, however, their anointed expert held that evolution did not contradict scripture. Indeed, he declared that it was in fact God’s method of creating. The resulting debate was the first extended evolution controversy in American history. It drove a wedge between those tolerant of new exegetical and scientific developments and the majority who opposed such openness. Hampton argues that Woodrow believed he was shoring up the alliance between science and scripture—that a circumscribed form of evolution did no violence to scriptural infallibility. The traditionalists’ view, however, remained interwoven with their identity as defenders of the Lost Cause and guardians of southern culture.

The ensuing debate triggered Woodrow’s dismissal. It also capped a modernity crisis experienced by an influential group of southern intellectuals who were grappling with the nature of knowledge, both scientific and religious, and its relationship to culture—a culture attempting to define itself in the shadow of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Bean, “The Politics of Evangelical Identity: Local Churches and Partisan Divides in the United States and Canada”

This August, Princeton University Press will publish The Politics of Evangelical Identity: Local Churches and Partisan Divides in the United States and Canada by Lydia Bean (Baylor University). The publisher’s description follows.bookjacket

It is now a common refrain among liberals that Christian Right pastors and television pundits have hijacked evangelical Christianity for partisan gain. The Politics of Evangelical Identity challenges this notion, arguing that the hijacking metaphor paints a fundamentally distorted picture of how evangelical churches have become politicized. The book reveals how the powerful coalition between evangelicals and the Republican Party is not merely a creation of political elites who have framed conservative issues in religious language, but is anchored in the lives of local congregations.

Drawing on her groundbreaking research at evangelical churches near the U.S. border with Canada–two in Buffalo, New York, and two in Hamilton, Ontario–Lydia Bean compares how American and Canadian evangelicals talk about politics in congregational settings. While Canadian evangelicals share the same theology and conservative moral attitudes as their American counterparts, their politics are quite different. On the U.S. side of the border, political conservatism is woven into the very fabric of everyday religious practice. Bean shows how subtle partisan cues emerge in small group interactions as members define how “we Christians” should relate to others in the broader civic arena, while liberals are cast in the role of adversaries. She explains how the most explicit partisan cues come not from clergy but rather from lay opinion leaders who help their less politically engaged peers to link evangelical identity to conservative politics.

The Politics of Evangelical Identity demonstrates how deep the ties remain between political conservatism and evangelical Christianity in America.

Sherkat, “Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities”

This August, NYU Press will publish Changing Faith: The Dynamics and Consequences of Americans’ Shifting Religious Identities by Darren Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows.

More than anywhere else in the Western world, religious attachments in America are quite flexible, with over 40 percent of U.S. citizens shifting their religious identification at least once in their lives. In Changing Faith, Darren E. Sherkat draws on empirical data from large-scale national studies to provide a comprehensive portrait of religious change and its consequences in the United States.
With analysis spanning across generations and ethnic groups, the volume traces the evolution of the experience of Protestantism and Catholicism in the United States, the dramatic growth of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, and the rise of non-identification, now the second most common religious affiliation in the country. Drawing on that wealth of data, it details the impact of religious commitments on broad arenas of American social life, including family and sexuality, economic well-being, political commitments, and social values.
Exploring religious change among those of European heritage as well as of Eastern and Western European immigrants, African Americans, Asians, Latin Americans, and Native Americans, Changing Faith not only provides a comprehensive and ethnically inclusive demographic overview of the juncture between religion and ethnicity within both the private and public sphere, but also brings empirical analysis back to the sociology of religion.

Bramadat & Dawson (eds.), “Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond”

In August, University of Toronto Press will publish Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond, edited by Paul Bramadat (University of Victoria) and Lorne Dawson (University of Waterloo). The publisher’s description follows.Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond:

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, those in
London and Madrid, and the arrest of the “Toronto 18,” Canadians have changed how they think about terrorism and security. As governments respond to the potential threat of homegrown radicalism, many observers have become concerned about the impact of those security measures on the minority groups whose lives are “securitized.”

In Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond, Paul Bramadat and Lorne Dawson bring together contributors from a wide range of academic disciplines to examine the challenges created by both religious radicalism and the state’s and society’s response to it. This collection takes a critical look at what is known about religious radicalization, how minorities are affected by radicalization from within and securitization from without, and how the public, media, and government are attempting to cope with the dangers of both radicalization and securitization.

Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond is an ideal guide to the ongoing debates on how best to respond to radicalization without sacrificing the commitments to multiculturalism and social justice that many Canadians hold dear.

Bose, “Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal”

In August, Oxford University Press will publish Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal by Neilesh Bose (University of North Texas). The publisher’s description follows.Cover for<br /><br /><br /> Recasting the Region<br /><br /><br />

Recasting the Region studies the trajectories of Muslim Bengali politics and examines the literary and cultural history of Bengali Muslims from the early twentieth century until the 1952 Language Movement. It argues that Muslim political mobilization in late colonial Bengal did not emanate from north Indian calls for a separatist ‘Muslim’ state of Pakistan, but rather emerged out of a sustained engagement with local Bengali intellectual and literary traditions.

In six chapters, the book features meticulous research on topics like the pursuit of folklore, literary modernism, and intellectual movements in both Dhaka and Kolkata in the late colonial period. Examining language literary texts, the social histories of newspaper and magazine offices, and the writings of Bengali Muslim politicians and intellectuals, the book delves into the meaning of nationalism and decolonization for the Bengali Muslims.

Focusing on the cultural history of the largest Muslim population of the colonial era, the Bengali Muslims, this work utilizes heretofore unexplored Bengali sources as well as offers a new interpretation of the emergence of the state of Pakistan.

Langer, “Religious Offence and Human Rights: The Implications of Defamation of Religions”

In July, Cambridge University Press will publish Religious Offence and Human Rights: The Implications of Defamation of Religions by Lorenz Langer (University of Zurich). The publisher’s description follows.

Should international law be concerned with offence to religions and their followers? Even before the 2005 publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons, Muslim States have endeavoured to establish some reputational protection for religions on the international level by pushing for recognition of the novel concept of ‘defamation of religions’. This study recounts these efforts as well as the opposition they aroused, particularly by proponents of free speech. It also addresses the more fundamental issue of how religion and international law may relate to each other. Historically, enforcing divine commands has been the primary task of legal systems, and it still is in numerous municipal jurisdictions. By analysing religious restrictions of blasphemy and sacrilege as well as international and national norms on free speech and freedom of religion, Lorenz Langer argues that, on the international level at least, religion does not provide a suitable rationale for legal norms.

Howell, “Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past”

In August, Oxford University Press will publish Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past by Sally Howell (University of Michigan-Dearborn). The publisher’s description follows.

Across North America, Islam is portrayed as a religion of immigrants, converts, and cultural outsiders. Yet Muslims have been part of American society for much longer than most people realize. This book documents the history of Islam in Detroit, a city that is home to several of the nation’s oldest, most diverse Muslim communities. In the early 1900s, there were thousands of Muslims in Detroit. Most came from Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and British India. In 1921, they built the nation’s first mosque in Highland Park. By the 1930s, new Islam-oriented social movements were taking root among African Americans in Detroit. By the 1950s, Albanians, Arabs, African Americans, and South Asians all had mosques and religious associations in the city, and they were confident that Islam could be, and had already become, an American religion. When immigration laws were liberalized in 1965, new immigrants and new African American converts rapidly became the majority of U.S. Muslims. For them, Detroit’s old Muslims and their mosques seemed oddly Americanized, even unorthodox.

Old Islam in Detroit explores the rise of Detroit’s earliest Muslim communities. It documents the culture wars and doctrinal debates that ensued as these populations confronted Muslim newcomers who did not understand their manner of worship or the American identities they had created. Looking closely at this historical encounter, Old Islam in Detroit provides a new interpretation of the possibilities and limits of Muslim incorporation in American life. It shows how Islam has become American in the past and how the anxieties many new Muslim Americans and non-Muslims feel about the place of Islam in American society today are not inevitable, but are part of a dynamic process of political and religious change that is still unfolding.

Haider, “The Origins of the Shī’a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in Eighth-Century Kūfa”

This July, Cambridge University Press will publish The Origins of the Shī’a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in Eighth-Century Kūfa by Najam Haider (Barnard College). The publisher’s description follows.

The Sunni-Shi’a schism is often framed as a dispute over the identity of the successor to Muhammad. In reality, however, this fracture only materialized a century later in the important southern Iraqi city of Kufa (present-day Najaf). This book explores the birth and development of Shi’i identity. Through a critical analysis of legal texts, whose provenance has only recently been confirmed, the study shows how the early Shi’a carved out independent religious and social identities through specific ritual practices and within separate sacred spaces. In this way, the book addresses two seminal controversies in the study of early Islam, namely the dating of Kufan Shi’i identity and the means by which the Shi’a differentiated themselves from mainstream Kufan society. This is an important, original and path-breaking book that marks a significant development in the study of early Islamic society.

Lewis & Petersen (eds.), “Controversial New Religions”

In July, Oxford University Press will publish the second edition of Controversial New Religions, edited by James Lewis (University of Tromsø) and Jesper Petersen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). The publisher’s description follows.Cover for<br /><br /> Controversial New Religions<br /><br />

In terms of public opinion, new religious movements are considered controversial for a variety of reasons ranging from how they speak, dress, and eat, to the way they think and their sense of community. Their social organization often runs counter to popular expectations by experimenting with communal living (or strict individualism), alternative leadership roles (or flat network structures), unusual economic dispositions, and new political and ethical values. As a result the general public views new religions with a mixture of curiosity, amusement, and anxiety, sustained by lavish media emphasis on oddness and tragedy rather than familiarity and lived experience. This updated and revised second edition of Controversial New Religions offers a scholarly, dispassionate look at those groups that have generated the most attention, including some very well-known classical groups like The Family, Unification Church, Scientology, and Jim Jones’ People’s Temple; some relative newcomers such as the Kabbalah Centre, the Order of the Solar Temple, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, and the Falun Gong; and some interesting cases like contemporary Satanism, the Raelians, Black nationalism, and various Pagan groups. Written by established scholars as well as younger experts in the field, each essay combines an overview of the history and beliefs of each organization or movement with original and insightful analysis. By presenting decades of scholarly work on new religious movements in an accessible form, this book will be an invaluable resource for all those who seek a view of new religions that is deeper than what can be found in sensationalistic media stories.

Trejo, “Popular Movements in Autocracies: Religion, Repression, and Indigenous Collective Action in Mexico”

This July, Cambridge University Press will publish Popular Movements in Autocracies: Religion, Repression, and Indigenous Collective Action in Mexico by Guillermo Trejo (Duke University). The publisher’s description follows.Popular Movements in Autocracies

This book presents a new explanation of the rise, development and demise of social movements and cycles of protest in autocracies; the conditions under which protest becomes rebellion; and the impact of protest and rebellion on democratization. Focusing on poor indigenous villages in Mexico’s authoritarian regime, the book shows that the spread of U.S. Protestant missionaries and the competition for indigenous souls motivated the Catholic Church to become a major promoter of indigenous movements for land redistribution and indigenous rights. The book explains why the outbreak of local rebellions, the transformation of indigenous claims for land into demands for ethnic autonomy and self-determination, and the threat of a generalized social uprising motivated national elites to democratize. Drawing on an original dataset of indigenous collective action and on extensive fieldwork, the empirical analysis of the book combines quantitative evidence with case studies and life histories.

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