The Secular as a Religious Power House: A Conversation between Kocku von Stuckrad and Courtney Bender


In his new book, A Cultural History of the Soul: Europe and North America from 1870 to the Present (Columbia University Press), Kocku von Stuckrad argues that contemporary forms of popular spirituality have a genealogy that can be traced back into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and that secular sciences have been instrumental in shaping these new spiritualities, metaphysical worldviews, and religious practices. Today, these trends also manifest in environmental politics and social movements around the world. What is the role of secular institutions in the transformation of religions and spiritualities? Has secularism been “religiously productive” itself? What does this mean for our understanding of secularity and religion in contemporary Europe and North America?

Kocku von Stuckrad, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Groningen (Netherlands), and Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at CERI-Sciences Po
Courtney Bender, Ada Byron Bampton Tremaine Professor of Religion, Columbia University
Bernard Reber, Moral and Political Philosopher, CNRS-affiliated Senior Research Fellow at CEVIPOF-Sciences Po
Academic responsibility:
Alain Dieckhoff, CNRS, Director of CERI-Sciences Po
Stéphane Lacroix, CERI-Sciences Po

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