Call for papers: special issue of Secular Studies

Secular Studies seeks submissions for a special issue that engages with Joseph Blankholm’s The Secular Paradox: On the Religiosity of the Not Religious (NYU Press 2022). The journal welcomes scholars working in a range of disciplines (sociology, history, psychology, philosophy, literature) and with a variety of methods (ethnography, archival research, textual analysis, cultural studies, quantitative and qualitative analysis). Articles that rely on original research or focus on the Global South are strongly encouraged.

Submissions might build on the book’s core concepts or address questions that it raises; for example:

  • What is distinctive about secular people like atheists and agnostics? What “beliefs” do they hold or worldviews might they ascribe to? What practices are they likely to engage in?
  • Do secular people like atheists, humanists, and agnostics participate in a “secular discursive tradition”? How has this tradition evolved historically? What are its influential touchstones, and what are its distinctive characteristics today? What are its constitutive debates?
  • Blankholm introduces the concept of “secular misfits” to describe those who “mis-fit” normative secularism. What can secular misfits reveal about the project of the secular and the condition of secularity? Are there other examples of “secular misfits,” beyond the secular identities that Blankholm explores?
  • The “secular paradox” is the notion that secular people are defined by both their rejection of religion and their participation in a religion-like tradition that organizes a distinctive way of life. Is the “secular paradox” useful for describing contexts outside the United States? What can it reveal about secular people’s lives today and in the past? Does the secular paradox offer insights into secular governance?
  • Are there secular structures of feeling? Or distinctively secular approaches to life-cycle stages like childhood, adolescence, marriage, and death? How and why might these stages be seen as meaningful? Is there secular humor?
  • Blankholm argues that “secular” rituals are both the rituals that secular people create to mark important times in their lives and the processes through which secular people make “religious” parts of life acceptable. How do these rituals vary across national contexts? How have “religious” beliefs, practices, and institutions been “secularized,” i.e., made free from religion? How have these efforts created various “modes” of the secular?
  • How do Blankholm’s notions of the “secular paradox,” “secular misfits,” and a “secular discursive tradition” complement other concepts introduced to explain secular life, such as Johannes Quack’s “religion-relatedness”, Stefan Schröder’s ideal types of secular organizations, or the discourse of the “Protestant secular”? Are there tensions between these approaches, or do they work best in concert?
  • To what extent are the religiously indifferent similar to atheists, agnostics, and other secular people? To what extent do they differ, such as in their conceptual vocabularies or lack thereof? And how can the secular paradox help to highlight these similarities and differences?
  • How has the secular paradox enabled and foreclosed nonbelievers’ struggles for legal recognition? When considering if they deserve “religious freedom” protections, are they religious, religion-like, or absolutely not religious? How does their status vary across countries and legal regimes?
  • If secular people participate in a distinctive way of life that is analogous to religion, what are the implications for theories of church/state separation and for theories of religious freedom? Does empiricism play a special role in liberal governance? How might the inclusion of secular people into a new “religious” pluralism enable healthier democratic discourse? What does it endanger?

Abstracts of no more than 350 words should be submitted to Niels de Nutte ( by December 1, 2023. Those accepted will be notified by the third week of December. Full drafts of essays for publication will be due on June 30, 2024, ahead of a planned publication of the special issue in October 2024.

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Anne Lancien (5 octobre 2023). Call for papers: special issue of Secular Studies. Le non-religieux. Consulté le 22 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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