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Do liberal societies need beliefs?

Do liberal societies need beliefs?

Ryan Schram

Mills 169 (A26)


18 May 2016


Mahmood, Saba. 2013. “Religious Reason and Secular Affect: An Incommensurable Divide?” In Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech, edited by Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Judith Butler, 64–100. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://criticism.english.illinois.edu/2012%20Spring%20pages/Readings/Mahmood_Is_Critique_Secular%20.pdf.

Keane, Webb. 2009. “Freedom and Blasphemy: On Indonesian Press Bans and Danish Cartoons.” Public Culture 21 (1): 47–76. doi:10.1215/08992363–2008–021.

Other readings

Bellah, Robert N. 1967. “Civil Religion in America.” Daedalus 96 (1): 1–21. http://www.robertbellah.com/articles_5.htm.

Hirschkind, Charles. 1997. “What Is Political Islam?” Middle East Report. http://www.merip.org/mer/mer205/what-political-islam.

Weill, Nicolas. 2006. “What’s in a Scarf?: The Debate on Laïcité in France.” French Politics, Culture & Society 24 (1): 59–73.

Other media

Ramzy, Austin. 2015. “Singapore Arrests Teenager Over Video Critical of Lee Kuan Yew.” The New York Times, March 30. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/world/asia/singapore-arrests-teenager-over-video-critical-of-lee-kuan-yew.html.

Theodorou, Angelina. 2015. “Which Countries Still Outlaw Apostasy and Blasphemy?” Pew Research Center. Accessed May 13. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/28/which-countries-still-outlaw-apostasy-and-blasphemy/.

Key ideas for this week

  • “Speech acts” according to J. L. Austin.
    • constative, performative
    • locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary
  • Fighting words, hate speech, “trigger warnings.”
  • Blasphemy, and blasphemy laws.
  • Should blasphemy be illegal? Why or why not?
  • Laws against proselytism around the world (Fox 2015: 193).
  • Semiotic ideology
    • Like language ideology, or the indexicality of language, register, ritual, and style.
    • More generally, an implicit cultural 'theory' of how communication works, and the connection between communicator, code, message and world.
  • Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartooons controversy, September 2005 to January 2006 (University Post Newsroom 2015).
  • Terry Jones and threatened Qu'ran burning, July to September 2010 (Derby 2010).
  • What is this conflict really about?
    • Mahmood: assimilative versus representational ideologies of meaning. Is it that simple?
    • Another case of iconophilia? The Zurenuoc affair in Papua New Guinea.


Austin, John L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Derby, Kevin. 2010. “World Weighs In to Condemn Terry Jones’ Planned Quran-Burning.” Sunshine State News, September 8. http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/world-weighs-in-condemn-terry-jones-planned-quran-burning.

Fox, Jonathan. 2015. Political Secularism, Religion, and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

University Post newsroom. 2015. “Ten Years of the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis: 2005-2015.” University Post, January 8. http://universitypost.dk/article/ten-years-muhammad-cartoon-crisis-2005-2015.

A guide to the unit

2667/11.txt · Last modified: 2016/05/17 16:27 by ryans