Government, University and the Category of Religion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


What does the survival of theology in the modern university mean for how we will understand what goes on in that institution today? Put more sharply, how are we to understand discourses that seem, perversely, to resist the commonly accepted partitioning of religious and non-religious space? Engaging this theme in a manner that can only appear provocative in a landscape in which these divisions are taken for granted will, I hope, shed illuminating light on the nature of the religious-secular boundary as it is currently configured. My thesis is this: theology proper, also known by its older denominator “divinity,” is the one university discipline that is not founded on or organized with reference to the category of “religion.” To substantiate this claim I will introduce a minority tradition of modern theology that both grants a clearly delimited validity to the concept of religion, admits that Christianity can be understood as a reli-gion, but refuses to conclude that the most important aspects of Christianity can be contained by this category. I will suggest that the implications of this thesis go far beyond the university, as the disciplining of academic knowledge is only part of a broader process by which Christianity has been domesticated (or enculturated) in the west precisely by labeling it “one of the religions.” In conclusion, I will explain why the refusal of this domestication is important in sustaining a tradition of political dissent
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty
EditorsTrevor Stack, Naomi R. Goldberg, Timothy Fitzgerald
Place of PublicationLeiden; Boston
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9789004290556 , 9004290559
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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