Introducing ACI Africa

EMMANUEL KATONGOLE

In its broad conception the Authority, Community, and Identity (ACI) Research project is about Africa’s complex modernities. Modernity is not one thing (see, for example, Eisentadt’s multiple modernities thesis). African individuals and communities find themselves at the intersection of multiple modern, global, local, traditional, secular and religious forces. Read the full article »

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Introducing ACI Indonesia

MUN’IM SIRRY

After a careful process of selecting the core research team, the Contending Modernities Authority, Community, and Identity (ACI) working group on Indonesia formally launched last year to begin a three-year research project to better understand the complex issues facing plural societies and to foster possible collaborations among various actors, religious and secular, at different levels: local and global, individuals and communities. Read the full article »

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An interfaith encounter with America (Part 1)

MAHAN MIRZA

“If Islam is so great and things are so wonderful back home, why did you come here?” As an international student from Pakistan who had grown up in a relatively privileged household, my transition to college life in America had promised to be seamless. And in many ways it was, at least outwardly. So my culture shock was extraordinarily abrupt. In the course of a midnight conversation on religion and politics, a fellow student had jolted me out of my comfort zone with his jarring question.

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Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 3)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This post is the third in a three-part series on the sometimes violent liturgical battles that have been waged in the Catholic Church in Bangalore, India, since the reforms of Vatican II. Though the Second Vatican Council began fifty years ago this year, conflicts about the place of Bangalore’s diversity of vernacular languages in the Church’s liturgy remain unresolved to this day. Part 1 recounted the origins of the conflict in the 1960s. Part 2 picked up the story at the beginning of the 1970s. Part 3, the present post, takes the story to the present day, drawing out its ironic implications for Catholic modernity and the Church’s modern “reforms.”

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Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 2)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This post is the second in a three-part series on the sometimes violent liturgical battles that have been waged in the Catholic Church in Bangalore, India, since the reforms of Vatican II. Though the Second Vatican Council began fifty years ago this year, conflicts about the place of Bangalore’s diversity of vernacular languages in the Church’s liturgy remain unresolved to this day. Part 1 recounted the origins of the conflict in the 1960s. Part 2 picks up the story at the beginning of the 1970s.

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Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 1)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. A mostly neglected issue in the study of the Council is its impact “on the ground” in the diverse local cultural contexts in which the Church is situated. One example is the revision of the liturgy. With the aim of improving lay participation, the Church began to encourage the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular instead of in Latin. In places such as Bangalore, India, however, the question of what constitutes the vernacular was itself a matter of much dispute — even violence — and has yet to be resolved even decades later.

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Catholicism and economic life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

The Arabian/Persian Gulf region is home to some of the fastest-developing cities in the world. In my research into these new hubs of global capitalism, one issue I examine is the role of Catholicism. While official statistics on foreign populations are not available, estimates from various sources (including embassies and churches) place the Catholic population in these cities at — astonishingly — between 10-30 percent, with a contributing factor being the increasing Filipino emigration to cities such as Dubai and Doha. One crucial way Catholicism shapes modern life in the Gulf is by serving as a source of “technical” competencies or cultural capital—technical in the sense of having to do with techniques, skills, and practices that contribute to economic outcomes and social mobility.

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The Islamic call for a free Egypt

MUSTAFA AKYOL

When the Arab Spring began earlier this year, first in Tunis and then in Egypt, many in the West felt sympathetic. But other people saw a risk: What if the Arab Spring midwifed a series of Islamist dictatorships? The deposed dictators of Tunis and Egypt were unmistakably authoritarian, but they were also secular. What if Islamists took advantage of democracy to establish their own dictatorships? What if these “bad guys,” as Donald Rumsfeld reportedly put it in a recent meeting in Washington, emerged triumphant?

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Interreligious Dialogue, too, can marginalize

KARSTEN LEHMANN

In my previous post on Manila 1960 as a forgotten yet fascinating chapter in the history of Interreligious Dialogue, I made a distinction between hagiography and unofficial history. In a way, I learned about the 1960 conference on “The Present Impact of the Great Religions of the World upon the Orient and the Occident” the “wrong” way around—by first getting acquainted with the unofficial story and only later with the somewhat more flattering self-portrait.

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A forgotten episode in the history of Interreligious Dialogue

KARSTEN LEHMANN

One often gets the impression that the history of Interreligious Dialogue is told in the form of hagiography, starting with “mystical figures” such as Akbar the Great or the Emirs of Granada and leading up to “present-day saints” such as Hans Küng, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Maya. There is, however, an important history of interreligious encounters that is generally excluded from the hagiography—a history that does not focus exclusively on shining examples and peaceful saints, that includes failure and dissent as well as understanding and comprehension, and that has to be rediscovered in order to grasp the structures, potentials and losses of Interreligious Dialogue.

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