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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter presents an overview of postcolonialism, outlining some of the key arguments, concepts, and contributing figures. It examines the major theoretical limitations of postcolonialism, in particular its overreliance on models of agency, difference, and secular models of social reality all of which are grounded in a causal negativity. Postcolonial studies has also largely missed the strategic importance of new developments in the study of religion due to the un-interrogated nature of ‘religion’ as an analytic category in postcolonial theory. This limitation is remedied to some extent by recent developments in the study of religion: e.g. (i) problematizion of religion as a cultural universal; and (ii) the critiques of ‘religion’ as a category manufactured by the modern state, and therefore intrinsically tied to notions of the secular. The chapter deploys a case study of Hinduism to show the continuing effects of postcolonialism and its importance for the study of religion.

Keywords: colonialism, decolonialism, orientalism, postcolonialism, religion

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