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Why is secularization never connected to climate change? And why is climate change not connected to secularization? If modernity is the Anthropocene and if secularization is a defining feature of modernity’s birth, then it is natural to ask: did secularization engender climate change?
In his first book Des empires sous la terre published in 2021, Mohamad Amer Meziane argues that secularization should be re-conceptualized not only as an imperial and racial but also as an ecological set of processes. It presupposes a critical understanding of what has been called ‘the secular’ as a name given to the result of the destruction of nature: the transformation of the earth itself by industrial and colonial powers. Meziane opens a new space in the study of both secularism and the Anthropocene, of religion and climate change by creating a philosophical bridge between the critique of Orientalism and the anthropology of secularism and Islam, respectively founded by Edward Said and Talal Asad, and the literature on the Anthropocene influenced by scholars such as Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour. This book offers a new, radical definition of secularization. Neither a supposed decline of religion nor a simple continuation of Christianity by other means, secularization should be seen as a transformation of the earth itself by virtue of its connection with fossil empires and capitalism.
This event is co-sponsored by the Maison Francaise, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life and the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University.