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  • Hostility toward Gender in Catholic and Political Right-Wing Movements

    Ute Leimgruber (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Starting with a speech by Theodor Adorno, the essay analyzes some thematic parallels between political and religious populism regarding the view on gender and feminism. In both certain traditional Catholic circles and right-wing political parties, an explicit hostility toward gender can be observed. In this article, this resentment is discussed in three aspects: the defense of a traditional image of the family, the instrumentalization of women’s rights against “the Islam”, and, generally, the propaganda of anti-feminism or anti-genderism. Moreover, the text considers the fact that in spite of anti-feminist positions, many women are part of these movements, sometimes even as leaders. The text will prove that this is only a superficial contradiction. The right-wing populist groups—both secular and religious—promise to reduce the potential threat to modern societies while “preserving” the traditional order. The coalitions between them run along the lines of the “values” represented, including anti-feminism and anti-genderism. The danger that these “alliances” pose to a liberal society must not be underestimated by the religious and secular actors who value and protect ambiguity and diversity.
  • Buddhist Modernism Underway in Bhutan: Gross National Happiness and Buddhist Political Theory

    Jessica Locke (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This article synthesizes and clarifies the significance of the last half-century’s developments in Bhutan’s politics within the frame of Buddhist political thought. During this time, Bhutan has held a curious position in the international community, both celebrated as a Buddhist Shangri-La defending its culture in the face of globalized modernity, and at times, criticized for defending its heritage too conservatively at the expense of ethnic minorities’ human rights. In other words, Bhutan is praised for being anti-modern and illiberal and denounced for being anti-modern and illiberal. As an alternative to understanding Bhutan vis-à-vis this unhelpful schema, and in order to better grasp what exactly is underway in Bhutan’s political developments, I read Bhutan’s politics from within the tradition of Buddhist political literature. I argue that the theory of governance driving Bhutan’s politics is an example of Buddhist modernism—both ancient and modern, deeply Buddhist and yet manifestly inflected by western liberalism. To elucidate Bhutan’s contiguity with (and occasional departures from) the tradition of Buddhist political thought, I read two politically-themed Buddhist texts, Nāgārjuna’s <i>Precious Garland</i> and Mipham’s <i>Treatise on Ethics for Kings,</i> drawing out their most relevant points on Buddhist governance. I then use these themes as a lens for analyzing three significant political developments in Bhutan: its recent transition to constitutional monarchy, its signature policy of Gross National Happiness, and its fraught ethnic politics. Reading Bhutan’s politics in this manner reveals the extent to which Buddhist political thought is underway in this moment. Bhutan’s Buddhist-modernist theory of governance is a hybrid political tradition that evinces a lasting commitment to the core values of Buddhist political thought while at the same time being responsive to modern geopolitical and intellectual influences.
  • Religion across Axes of Inequality in the United States: Belonging, Behaving, and Believing at the Intersections of Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality

    Landon Schnabel (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Much research considers group differences in religious belonging, behaving, and/or believing by gender, race, ethnicity, class, or sexuality. This study, however, considers all these factors at once, providing the first comprehensive snapshot of religious belonging, behaving, and believing across and within these axes of inequality in the United States. Leveraging unique data with an exceptionally large sample, I explore religion across 40 unique configurations of intersecting identities (e.g., one is non-Latina Black heterosexual college-educated women). Across all measures considered, Black women are at the top—however, depending on the measure, there are different subsets of Black women at the top. And whereas most sexual minorities are among the least religious Americans, Black sexual minorities—and especially those with a college degree—exhibit high levels of religious belonging, behaving, and believing. In fact, Black sexual minority women with a college degree meditate more frequently than any other group considered. Overall, whereas we see clear divides in how religious people are by factors like gender, education, and sexual orientation among most racial groups, race appears to overpower other factors for Black Americans who are consistently religious regardless of their other characteristics. By presenting levels of religious belonging, behaving, and believing across configurations of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality in the contemporary United States, this study provides a more complex and complete picture of American religion and spirituality.
  • The Challenge of Chronotopicity: Female Co-Cremation in India Revisited in the Light of Time–Space Sensitive Ritual Criticism

    Albertina (Tineke) Nugteren (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Rituals are embedded in a particular time and space, and so are their objects and meanings. The ‘chronotope’ we focus on here is the occasional—partly self-chosen, partly societally forced—ritual death of Hindu widows along with their deceased husbands. Although never widely practiced, widow-burning caught the imagination of Europeans as illustrating both Hinduism’s ‘barbarity’ and its ‘high conjugal ideals’. Although <i>sat</i>ī had been outlawed since 1829, in 1987 a new case inflamed opposing sentiments. In 2002, in a passage called ‘Ritual Criticism and Widow Burning’, Ronald Grimes drew attention to it as a rite of passage that calls for normative comments and ritual criticism. Since then, in circles of ritual studies Hindu, widow-burning has occasionally been repeated as one of the ritual practices in need of condemnation. In order to put this rare practice, banned since almost 200 years ago, back into a proper time–place perspective, both its ritual details and its sociocultural contexts are revisited. Finally, we propose some case-specific factors that could serve as retrospective ritual criticism. We conclude with a plea for time–space sensitivity.
  • Narrative and the Politics of Identity: Patterns of the Spread and Acceptance of Radicalism and Terrorism in Indonesia

    Firdaus Syam; Fachruddin Majeri Mangunjaya; Ajeng Rizqi Rahmanillah; Robi Nurhadi (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This study aims to examine Islamic narratives heard at mosques and in study groups in the greater metropolitan area of Jakarta, Indonesia. The article asks if youth and leaders of youth organizations in Jakarta are receptive to radical/terrorist discourse or if they deliberate and weigh what certain narratives mean. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 24 subjects. These included Rohani Islamic group leaders who hold extracurricular study groups after middle and high school classes, as well as Islamic Mission organizations or Lembaga Da’wah Kampus (LDK—literally translates as Campus Mission Organization; they are some senior students and may invite Islamic scholars or themselves teach Islam and preach to students who are willing to learn Islam specially only at the university as an extracurricular activity; in this article, we translate it as Islamic Mission organization.). which exist on Jakarta’s university campuses where radical narratives are discussed. Other organizations and their leaders were also included. Questions posed to members of these organizations by the authors of this article asked if they accepted, rejected, or negotiated certain ideas regarded as radical by the Indonesian government. Respondents were asked if they believed violent acts against non-reform Muslims and non-Muslims were justified. Respondents were also asked if the Indonesian constitution, Pancasila, should continue its secular democratic legal format, or if it should be replaced by sharia law. Ultimately, most informants took more moderate stances, somewhere in between pure secularism and pure radical terrorism. In this way, this study disproves scholars such as Martin van Bruinessen (2013) who claim that Indonesian Islam is becoming more conservative, and others such as Harsono who claim Indonesian Islam is becoming more violent. While violence was condoned by some respondents, this article reveals that a majority of respondents rejected the view that sharia law should prevail. Ultimately most respondents in this study decided a balanced viewpoint was the best. Thus, this article reveals the degree of moderation of most Jakarta residents, and the nuance and depth of consideration that devout individuals give to a range of contemporary ideas as they negotiate their stance on religion, the state, and their local identities.

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