About this Project
2013 – 2015
Scholarly literature suggests two reasons for the recent re-emergence of political theology across the social sciences and humanities, challenging what many thought was an outdated modality of inquiry. The first is a growing concern that the practical and theoretical subordination of politics to a service function for markets, which goes hand in hand with an isolation of individuals, deprives human beings of their potential to shape their future in collaboration with others. The second is a suspicion that the research orientation of much contemporary social science remains beholden to a positivist epistemology that can describe and analyze only what already exists, and thus (at least unwittingly) supports the subordination of politics by underplaying the creative potential of human beings to reimagine more satisfying lives in the company of others. Political theology promises to address these concerns by wondering about the orientation of politics to guiding values, and by searching for enduring historical influence of theological ideas on political concepts and the formation of political institutions. This project brought faculty from Classics, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Divinity, Germanic Studies, and English together with invited visiting scholars for bi-weekly workshops to define and refine a coherent agenda for a long-term, trans-disciplinary research project on political theology.
The "Beyond Political Theology? Authority, Community, and the Absolute" conference explored how the global resurgence of religiously motivated politics has challenged the “enlightened” conclusion that public life would increasingly be organized along non-religious lines. Read More>>
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