Saba Mahmood over at The Immanent Frame:
The series of posts at The Immanent Frame that have responded to the question “Is critique secular?” were initially inspired by an event that I, along with Judith Butler and Chris Nealon, organized last year at The Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley. Given the SSRC’s current focus on religion and secularism, Jonathan VanAntwerpen invited the conference organizers and participants, and a range of others, to post their reflections on this event and the question that framed it (see posts by Talal Asad, Chris Nealon, and Colin Jager—all of whom participated in the symposium). Here I would like to give a sense of the ongoing stakes some of us have in this conversation and why I think it is important to think about secularism in relation to critique given the political bent of our times.
The symposium “Is Critique Secular?” was the inaugural event for a new teaching and research unit in critical theory at UC Berkeley, plans for which had been in gestation for over a year. While the motivations for the establishment of this program were diverse, there is a group of us who are interested in opening up traditional ways of thinking about critique to recent problematizations of notions of the secular, secularity, and secularism.