Thinking about Religion, Belief, and Politics

— A lecture by Talal Asad

“I want to begin with a prior question, one which I’ve addressed before, might go over some of the points: What is religion? How has it come to be defined in the ways it has. Why is belief so strongly emphasized in so many different issues. I’ll then go on to speculate about its connections with politics, mainly through a discussion of perspective in the anthropological study of ritual and religion. But I’ll also discuss Charles Taylor’s recent magnum opus, Secular Age, that draws strategically, but very importantly, on anthropology, on victorian ideas about primitive mind as well as on recent ideas about ritual.”

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