Chapter 8 - Contemporary Religion.docx

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Kenneth Derry

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Chapter 8 • Conventional wisdom assumes religion is on the decline in western societies because forces of modernisation and particularly secularization are simply to strong • Despite this, very hard to understand modern world without understanding major religious traditions and influences that cut across global boundaries and feed into and shape global politics • Most obvious example of how religion shapes the 21st century world: Muslims and Islam post 9/11 o Not reallly all Muslims but extremist interpretations that have significance • Religious practices are shaped by, and also shape, the global political landscape Post-Colonialism and Globalisation • 21st century: North America and Europe have been peaceful despite small conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia • Since collapse of Soviet Russia in 1991: USA is the single world superpower • Until 1950 Britain was the major power, had control of majority of the world • Areas that were of European settlement (North America and Australia) are now principal global powers • Areas that were for economic exploitation (Africa and India) are now considered as "third world" or "developing" • Despite colonialism ending these third world countries are indebted to the "first word" because of economic order • Present day global structures produced by colonial history, so are contemporary religions • Globalization: makes it hard to define national boundaries because of economics, technology and communications o Every part of the world and all religious traditions are embedded within the forces of globalisation • Arjun Appadurai o Scapes: elements of activity in which flows of people, goods and ideas are experienced in specific local contexts o 5 Scapes: i. Ethnoscapes: clusters of social identity i. Mediascapes: flow of ideas and images through various media (tv and internet) i. Technoscapes: way in which technologies and knowledge play out on a globalised level i. Financescapes: flows of money and commerce, and means by which such flows are controlled i. Ideascapes: flow of ideas across boundaries through social networks and certain media Nationalism and Localisation • Globalisation does not produce homogeneity, it can and often brings out big differences • Localisation: opposite of globalisation, sense of local and the distinct is produced o Localisation expressed through idea of nationalism • Glocalisation: idea that one produces the other • Looked at from above: any particular nation represents a distinct local entity o Similar to other nations but different in terms of its culture, languages, outlook and symbols (flag and national anthem) • Looked at from below: nation held to encompass various local differences into a manageable political unit that includes all or most of its citizens • Nationalism provides framework for local identity • Benedict Anderson: populations of nations work hard at the cultural and ideological level to create themselves as cohesive 'imagined communities' • Relationship between religion and nationality is a source of controversy and sometimes conflict • Post Colonial India: o After British left India, propositioned by nationalists that the land will become one nation, India o but instead it became 2: India (Hindus and Sikh majority) and Pakistan (Muslim majority) o This partition caused violence on both sides against the minorities on the 'wrong side of the border' in the name of 'ethnic cleansing' o Tragic irony: conflict was between people who shared strong cultural and linguistic similarities but divided by their religious identities o Pakistan was created as West Pakistan and East Pakistan both on either ends of India (1000 miles apart) • The great distance caused tension in the cultures not being the same despite Islam being their national religions, East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1973 o Internal conflict within India aswell • Conflict against Sikhs and Muslims • Issue with Indian state of Kashmir Ethnicity •Contemporary globalisation also framed by idea of ethnicity o Sense of shared culture and identity, bonded by things like language, way of life, cultural products, common connections •Nationalism vs. Ethnicity o Nationalism: more connected to political aspect o Nations are premised on idea of shared ethnicity • Scotland has Scottish people, England has english people, etc… o Ethnicity and nationality aren't always the same • Ex. USA • Ex. India has many regional ethnic groups (punjabis, bengalis, gujuratis, tamils • Ex. England (North, west, south-east) o Ethnicity is localised form of nationalism o Ethnicity brings together idea of people, culture, place and unity of blood •Ethnicity vs. R
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