Many Humanisms, Many Modernities: Contesting Talal Asad’s Anti-Humanist Critique of Humanitarianism

Due to his sole preoccupation with a secularized Christian and Western story of human-humanism-humanitarianism, Asad’s genealogy misses ongoing, creative, and complex contemporary engagements with the ethics and practices, promises and ambivalences of all humanistic projects—engagements that can and do inform the ways in which humanitarianism is being envisioned, enacted, and critiqued.

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Religious Humanitarians and the Challenges of History

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Lynch’s research is to be celebrated for the ways it foregrounds and explicates the importance of interrogating the discursive formations that inform religious ethics and popular casuistry. Her neo-Weberian framing allows for an elastic lens through which to examine the intersections of neoliberal and (African) orientalist discourses in the diffusion and praxis of the technocratic donor-driven apparatus of humanitarianism and development work. Read the full article »

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From Power to the Spaces of the Ethical

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Religious and secular identities and reasons constitute much of the ethical motivations for activists’ political practices. These categories are often sources of deep difference but they also point toward the transformation that only differences can bring—the transformation that can sustain, rather than eliminate, deep religious-secular pluralism. Focusing solely on the dynamics of power obscures our capacity to describe and theorize this normative work. Read the full article »

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