TALAL ASAD (born 1932) is an anthropologist at the CUNY Graduate Center .
Asad has made important theoretical contributions to postcolonialism
His long-term research concerns the transformation of religious law (the shari'ah) in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt with special reference to arguments about what constitutes secular and progressive reform.
* 1 Biography * 2 Critical thematics * 3 Formations of The Secular * 4 Select bibliography * 5 Further reading * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links
He was born in
William E. Connolly attempts to summarize Asad's theoretical contributions on secularism as follows:
FORMATIONS OF THE SECULAR
Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity is both an original work and a reworking of previous essays and papers by Asad. In Formations of The Secular, Asad examines what he views as the curious character of modern European and American societies and their notion of secularism .
Secularism, often viewed as a neutral or flat space that forbids
religious opinion or interference in political questions, is found to
be somewhat curious to Asad. Specifically, Asad's experiences with the
response to the 2001
September 11th attacks
This leads Asad's deployment of the genealogical method in order to
understand why a country like the
These events, as well as other questions, lead Asad to what might be termed the thesis of the book:
The secular, I argue, is neither continuous with the religious that supposedly preceded it (that is, it is not the latest phase of a sacred origin) nor a simple break from it (that is, it is not the opposite, an essence that excludes the sacred). I take the secular to be a concept that brings together certain behaviors, knowledges, and sensibilities in modern life. :24
Building on that notion, Asad is also critical of the more common concept of secularism, which he views as having no distinct features that demarcate it from other prior forms of secularism found elsewhere in the world. Instead he favors another approach to viewing modern secularism:
In my view the secular is neither singular in origin nor stable in its historical identity, although it works through a series of particular oppositions. :24
With that said, Asad's goal for the book is to understand how a more general pre-secularism mutates into the more familiar "novel" form of secularism present within Euro-American societies – Asad makes clear his interest in this specific "novel" variant. :1–2
* The Kababish Arabs: Power, Authority, and Consent in a Nomadic
Tribe. Praeger Publishers, 1970. ISBN 0-900966-21-1
* "Market Model, Class Structure, and Consent: A Reconsideration of
Swat Political Organization." Man 7(1) (1972), pp. 74–89.
* ^ Fifty Key Thinkers on Religion by Gary Kessler * ^ William E. Connolly in Powers of the Secular Modern: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors, Stanford 2006, 75. * ^ "TALAL ASAD". City University of New York. Retrieved 11 July 2014. * ^ Chaghatai, Muhammad Asad, Vol. 1, p. 339. * ^ Connolly, pp. 75-76. * ^ A B C D E F G H Asad, Talal. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, Calif: Stanford, 2003.