Abstract and Keywords
Investigators should discover how particular groups, institutions, and societies talk about and practice secularism—if in fact they do at all—rather than impose a speciously unified concept, derived from one society’s experience, on all places and times. A critical perspective on “the secular” is presented in this chapter, illustrating how to acknowledge and analyze its extraordinary diversity. Insights into African, Japanese, Jewish, Muslim, and American secular experiences illustrate that diversity. This exploration deconstructs the category “secular,” as scholars have already done with the category “religion.” Both terms—“the religious” and “the secular”—may or may not survive the exercise.
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