Yrd. Doç. Dr. Neslihan Çevik

In sociology of religion, postcolonial research may assist us to critically examine the established ways in which we think about religion and Islam in particular. Despite several attempts to rethink the secularism thesis, disciplinary framework in sociology still runs along a binary track, expecting religions to be either a fundamentalist rejection of modernity or a liberal submission to it. In the case of Islam, this binary divide prescribes that Islam gears towards fundamentalism, and Islamic fundamentalism gears towards a political take over of the state. This framework has difficulty interpreting emerging religious forms that engage modern life, be it fashion, democratic movement, or modern politics, by using Islam. There is a tendency to marginalize such engagements either as erosion of Islam’s symbolic boundaries or a façade for political Islam; as such, this framework prevents us from recognizing the actual content of and conditions for religious innovation and identity change. The same binary division also have difficulty interpreting shifting boundaries between the devout and modernity in Western societies. By allowing us to critically examine established knowledge and discourses on religion, postcolonial research allow us to open up a new epistemological space; a space, where we can rethink received binaries of secular/religious, political/cultural, and liberal/fundamentalist, and call for a more institutional approach to religion and its place in global processes and institutions.