Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Erik Larson

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lesley Northup

Third Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman

Keywords

violence, deconstruction, religion, secular, binary statements, linguistic archives, Islam, globalization, religious illiteracy, hegemonic discourses

Date of Defense

5-5-2011

Abstract

The thesis argues for the inclusion of the study of religion within the public school curriculum. It argues that the whole division between “religious” and “secular” spaces and institutions is itself rooted in a specific religious tradition. Using the theories of Jacques Derrida, I argue that, unless the present process of globalization is tempered with alternative models of organizing that don’t include this secular/sacred division, the very process of Western globalization acts as a moral religion. Derrida calls this process “globalatinization,” the imposition of Western defined institutions upon other cultures. The process creates a type of religious violence through act of imposing notions of “secular/public” and “sacred/private.” Drawing from Mark Juergensmeyer’s theory of religious violence, and Derrida’s and Foucault’s understanding of discursive formations, I argue that religious studies should enter this “secular/public” space in the form of educating about the world’s religions. Such education would go a long way in preventing the demonization of the “other” through promoting empathy, understanding, and respect for “other” traditions. Finally, education would provide a needed self-critique of the dividing of “secular/sacred” in contemporary Western life.

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