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Democracy in Modern IranIslam, Culture, and Political Change$
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Ali Mirsepassi

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795644

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795644.001.0001

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Modern Visions of Secularism

Modern Visions of Secularism

(p.49) 2 Modern Visions of Secularism
Democracy in Modern Iran

Ali Mirsepassi

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes the theory of secularism and the secular by Talal Asad, arguing that Asad's analysis provides a great range of new insights into the problems and limits of the secular as a specific political tradition and way of being with respect to non-Western and particularly Islamic societies. Yet Asad's rejection of secularism is problematic, and in fact the politics of secularism have become an important part of national democratic struggles in Middle Eastern and Islamic societies. Part of that struggle involves understanding the significance of secularism in a more complex and nuanced way. Asad writes that, “because the secular is so much a part of our modern life, it is not easy to grasp it directly [it is] best pursued through its shadows.”

Keywords:   theory of secularism, secular, Talal Asad, political tradition, Islamic societies, secularism politics, democratic struggles, Middle East

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