The Making of a Postsecular Society : A Durkheimian Approach to Memory, Pluralism and Religion in Turkey book cover
1st Edition

The Making of a Postsecular Society
A Durkheimian Approach to Memory, Pluralism and Religion in Turkey

ISBN 9780367599829
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
318 Pages

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Book Description

Drawing on the thought of Durkheim, this volume focuses on societal changes at the symbolic level to develop a new conceptualisation of the emergence of postsecular societies. Neo-Durkheimian categories are applied to the case of Turkey, which in recent years has shifted from a strong Republican and Kemalist view of secularism to a more Anglo-Saxon perspective. Turkish society thus constitutes an interesting case that blurs modernist distinctions between the secular and the religious and which could be described as ’postsecular’. Presenting three symbolic case studies - the enduring image of the founder of the Republic Atatürk, the contested site of Ayasofia, and the remembering and commemoration of the murdered journalist Hrant Dink - The Making of a Postsecular Society analyses the cultural relationship that the modern Republic has always had with Europe, considering the possible implications of the Turkish model of secularism for a specifically European self-understanding of modernity. Based on a rigorous construction of theoretical categories and on a close scrutiny of the common challenges confronting Europe and its Turkish neighbour long considered ’other’ with regard to the accommodation of religious difference, this book sheds light on the possibilities for Europe to find new ways of arranging the relationship between the secular and the religious. As such, it will appeal to scholars of social theory, the sociology of religion, secularisation and religious difference, and social change.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Alessandro Ferrara; Preface; Introduction: new centres, new stories. Part I A Sociological Theory of Postsecular Society: Centre and periphery: social symbolic morphology; Clarifying the postsecular: a sociological reading; Postsecular sanctuaries and the centre: the sacredness of sacred places; Memory, trauma and the work of rituals: the dynamics of symbols. Part II The Turkish Laboratory: Centre and periphery in the history of Republican Turkey: a symbolic analysis; From a secular to a postsecular and post-Kemalist Turkey? The neo-Ottoman (democratic) narrative and the reconstruction of the Turkish central value system; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: an old symbol in transformation; Turning religious differences into a museum: Aya Sofya; When the water finds its crack: Hrant Dink at the crossroads of contemporary Turkey; Modernities and religions: the four quadrant model; Conclusion: Habap and the water that came from heaven; Appendix: Durkheim in Turkey;

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Massimo Rosati was Associate Professor of Sociology and the founder and first Director of the Centre for the Study and Documentation of Religions and Political Institutions in Post-Secular Society at the University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy. He was the author of Ritual and the Sacred: A Neo-Durkheimian Analysis of Politics, Religion and the Self and co-editor of Suffering and Evil: The Durkheimian Legacy, and Multiple Modernities and Postsecular Societies.

Alessandro Ferrara is Professor of Political Philosophy and Director of the Centre for the Study and Documentation of Religions and Political Institutions in Post-Secular Society at the University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy. Former President of the Italian Association for Political Philosophy, he has recently authored The Democratic Horizon: Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism.


'In this posthumous work, Rosati turns received wisdom on its head and makes the case for Turkey as a truly post-secular society - and one Europe would do well to study and learn from. He allows us to envision the growth of a true pluralism of nations, ethnicities, religiously obliged and secular individuals and a cultural diversity that gives new meaning to the concept of neo-Ottomanism.' - Adam B. Seligman, Boston University, USA and Director of CEDAR - Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion

'A sympathetic and gripping sociological account of the deep diversity and plurality of contemporary Turkey. Balancing delicately brilliant Durkheimian theoretical analysis with thick ethnographic description Rosati illuminates the emergence of a post-secular Turkish society as it tries to reshape a new identity beyond military authoritarianism and the dead-ends of secularist and religious fundamentalisms.' - José Casanova, Georgetown University, USA

'Massimo Rosati’s book is a novel contribution for understanding the complexities of the Turkish political landscape, the post-Kemalist turn, merging religious/secular value systems, and irruption of tragic memories of the past. In the making of a postsecular society the modernist distinctions, symbolic meanings, polarizations and separations are blurred. Rosati not only opens-up our readings of secular modernity to social innovation, he furthermore displaces social theory beyond its western borders. He sets an example for the coming generations for a new intellectual style, inquiring emancipatory potential in unconventional places and practices.' -  Nilüfer Göle, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France