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Kata Moser: A clash of secularisms? Contemporary Arab perspectives in Review

July 1, 2022 @ 15:00 - 17:00 CEST

From the 1970s onward and particularly in the 1990s, Arab philosophers of various schools discussed and developed expressis verbis theories of secularism. In this contribution, I focus on two Arab secularism theories of the 1990s, which, I propose, must be seen in the context of the new global formation after the end of the Cold War and the associated bipolar world order. Huntington’s subsequent attempt to redraft the global balance of power posits that future clashes will be between religions and beliefs, particularly between the secular West and the Islamic Middle East. Many Arab intellectuals reject the reductionism of this world view and instead emphasize globally shared values, including especially secularism. Based on the elaborate analytical justification of secularism by Adel Daher (1939-) and the historical-pragmatic argumentation for secularism by Sadik al-Azm (1934-2016), I will outline some theoretical “clashes” (in a weak sense) within Arab theories of secularism and between these theories and dominant Western ideas of secularism, paradigmatically Charles Taylor’s theory of the secular age as an “immanent frame”. I want to show how Arab theories of secularism can be understood and used as fruitful contributions to global debates on secularism theory.

Kata Moser is junior professor for “Secularism in the Islamic Modernity” at the University of Göttingen since October 2019. Previously, she was a research associate at the Department of Oriental Studies/Islamic Studies at the University of Bochum and a research assistant at the Institute for Islamic Studies and Modern Oriental Philology at the University of Bern, where she earned her PhD in 2014 (published as: Akademische Philosophie in der arabischen Welt. Inhalte – Institutionen – Periodika. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz 2018). She studied Islamic Studies, Theater Studies and Philosophy at the Universities of Berlin, Bern, Leipzig and Zurich (MA in Islamic Studies, Bern 2009), and visited Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran for research and study trips. Her research focuses on contemporary Arabic philosophy with a special focus on theories of secularism and the reception of Heidegger as well as theater in the Arabic world. She is co-editor of the book series Philosophy in the Modern Middle East (De Gruyter, formerly Klaus Schwarz).


July 1, 2022
15:00 - 17:00 CEST
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Kata Moser