Introduction: Emotional entanglements of sacrality and secularity—Engaging the paradox

Markus Balkenhol, Ernst van den Hemel , Irene Stengs

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


How, in various places across the world, do religious emotions and national sentiment become entangled? In exploring this theme, this book focuses on such diverse topics as the dynamic roles of Carnival in Brazil, the public contestation of ritual in Northern Nigeria and the culturalization of secular tolerance in the Netherlands. What binds the chapters in this volume is the focus on the ways in which sacrality and secularity mutually inform, enforce and spill over into each other. The case studies offer a bottom-up, practice-oriented approach in which the authors are wary to use categories of religion and secular as neutral descriptive terms. At this moment in time, it has become somewhat of a stale repetition to criticize the secular-religious divide. We are very much part and parcel of a world in which these boundaries overlap, are claimed, contested, reclaimed and re-contested in new and dynamic ways. If the debate on the postsecular has taught us anything, it is that the tools with which we work are implicated in these contestations. The notions ‘secular’, ‘sacred’ and ‘religion’ are as much part of our conceptual toolbox as objects of investigation. In order to illustrate how we are always in the middle of things, and in order to see how we should, if we are to understand the entanglements of sacrality, religion and secularity, think our way up from praxis, we opt for a start in medias res. We therefore open this introduction in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 October 2017 to be precise, when the mourning rituals for the recently deceased king are about to reach their apex.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Secular Sacred
Subtitle of host publicationEmotions of Belonging and the Perils of Nation and Religion
EditorsMarkus Balkenhol, Ernst van den Hemel, Irene Stengs
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030380502
ISBN (Print)9783030380496, 9783030380526
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series


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