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New Social Foundations for Education

Education in 'Post Secular' Society

Edited By Philip Wexler and Yotam Hotam

There has been growing scholarly attention to questions about the revival of religion and religiosity on global social, cultural and political fronts and the emergence of a ‘post-secular’ society. New Social Foundations for Education is dedicated to the drawing of the implications of the contemporary ‘post-secular’ social transformation for education. Though the question of the ‘post-secular’ stands at the focal point of a wide range of academic debates and discussions, within educational discourse it has not received close scholarly attention. This volume aims to correct this lack by presenting groundbreaking works of leading scholars from Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. Contributions discuss such topics as the mystical tradition and its social and pedagogic implications; transformative and ecological education; ‘new age’ spiritualism and its educational implications; and the relations between secular and religious education in different local contexts.
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7. Demarcating the Secular: Education Policy in Mandate Palestine


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7. Demarcating the Secular: Education Policy in Mandate Palestine


Surely the church is a place where one day’s truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.1

In an important study published in 2003, which has subsequently become required reading for those interested in the critique of secularism, Talal Asad outlined two essential tasks for the scholarly community: First, to ask “how, when, and by whom are the categories of religion and the secular defined,” and second, to ask “what assumptions are presupposed in the acts that define them?” (p. 201). Notwithstanding recent calls for a theory of the “post-secular” that recognizes that “the European development, whose Occidental rationalism was once supposed to serve as a model for the rest of the world, is actually the exception rather than the norm” (Habermas, 2008), I would like to suggest that historians of the modern Middle East must, with good reason, dwell for some time on Asad’s challenge to understand the history of secularism in the societies they study.

The reason for this is, briefly stated, as follows. To recognize the deeply Protestant roots of secularism—with its Pauline equation of “religion” with faith and corresponding construction of the private individual and the public citizen—is to confront a historical trajectory that could have no easy equivalent within juridical traditions like Islam for whom sola fide was an inadequate basis for producing a moral...

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