Tag Archives: duke university press

Politics of Religious Freedom

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Genealogies edited by Saba Mahmood, South Atlantic Quarterly (vol 113 iss 1), from Duke University Press.

Saba Mahmood Politics of Religious Freedom from Duke University Press

Although South Atlantic Quarterly is published out of North Carolina, this number on “Politics of Religious Freedom” brings a global, and somewhat European-centered perspective to an issue that many Americans think of as having exceptional relevance to our traditions of government. Accordingly, there is no discussion of “separation of church and state,” and instead, there are repeated explorations of the distinction between the forum internum and the forum externum and 20th-century formulations of “human rights.” Besides the European genealogy of religious freedom, the writings here treat the interesting contemporary cases of Hindu majoritarianism in India and the official treatment of Bahaism in Egypt. The sole US-centered article is concerned with “US Evangelicals and the Politics of Slave Redemption in Sudan,” which is hardly a customary topic in this field.

As a general rule, the authors see “religious freedom” as a concept that is somewhat incoherent by design, so that its application is highly dependent on context and circumstance. The result is that it becomes an instrument of casuistry, and it permits the state to constrain and control religion according to socially conservative impulses.

The “Against the Day” supplement to this number of SAQ treats the anti-Putin protests in Russia in 2012 and 2013. The articles of this section include debunkings of conventional punditry about the motives and nature of those protests, as well as reflections on the properties and potentials of a depoliticized Russian citizenry. These were fascinating pieces, and I was surprised to see many likenesses between Russian and US political situations in the 21st century, even as the authors emphasized the peculiarities and uniqueness of the Russian situation. [via]

Walkers, Voyeurs, and the Politics of Urban Space

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Walkers, Voyeurs, and the Politics of Urban Space (Special Issue of Radical History Review) [also] edited by Daniel J Walkowitz and Robin Autry from Duke University Press:


Daniel J Walkowitz and Robin Autry's Walkers Voyeurs and the Politics of Urban Space from Duke University Press


As an angry pedestrian, I was predisposed to enjoy this number of Radical History Review. For most of my adult life, I have lived in cities where I have had other priorities than car ownership, and I genuinely like to walk. But I resent the car-centered culture that makes it difficult and declasse to use human locomotion, at the same time as it strangles itself in pollution, impervious cover, violent collisions, and “traffic.” I have lived in a time when US cars have gotten bigger and stupider. I salute Hummers and spit on cars that stop athwart crosswalks.

These specific “negative” concerns of mine are only addressed in a couple of the features in the book (Schmucki’s “Against ‘the Eviction of the Pedestrian'” and the compound review “Traffic Logic and Political Logic” by Mitchell). But the entire volume is full of interesting material regarding the values and potentials of pedestrian society. The scope is decidedly international, with articles about the US, Ukraine, France, Guatemala, Germany, Australia, and Britain.

The “Teaching Radical History” article (Rubin on Situationist derive) was especially interesting to me in terms of practical utility (I think there’s an irony there), while Giloi’s study of German teen socialization at the turn of the 20th century offered some of the most lucid theoretical applications. [via]



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The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal

You may be interested in The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal (New Slant: Religion, Politics, Ontology), by Joshua Ramey from Duke University Press.

“Gilles Deleuze drew upon a vast array of source material in his writing, from philosophy and psychoanalysis to science and art. Among the intellectual currents that influenced his work, however, one has been largely neglected in Deleuze scholarship: Western esotericism, specifically the lineage of Hermetic thought that extends from Late Antiquity into the Renaissance through the work of such figures as Iamblichus, Nicholas of Cusa, Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno. In this book, Joshua Ramey examines the extent to which Deleuze’s ethics, metaphysics, and politics were informed by—and can only be fully understood through—this Hermetic tradition.

Ramey identifies key Hermetic moments in Deleuzian thought—including his theories of art, subjectivity, and immanence—arguing that Deleuze’s work represents a kind of contemporary Hermeticism, a consistent experiment to unite thought and affect, percept and concept, mind and nature in order to engender new relations between knowledge, power, and desire. In uncovering and clarifying the Hermetic strand in Deleuze’s work, Ramey offers both a new, cogent interpretation of Deleuze—particularly his insistence that the development of thought demands a spiritual ordeal—and a framework for retrieving the pre-Kantian paradigm of philosophy as spiritual practice.”