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The Challenge of Postsecularism

Abstract

Since September 11 attacks on World Trade Center, the word “postsecularism” became a kind of key to explain the existing tension between the secular and “indifferent toward religion” Western world, and the growing religious fundamentalism. However, the existence of conflict between secular and religious worldviews and the attempts to overcome it are not new. The aim of my paper is to present a few examples of successful endeavors of worldviews exchanges between believers and nonbelievers. But, first, a definition of postsecularism will be suggested together with some critical reflection on the concept of religion. I will also discuss some inspiring ideas and theories of postsecularism from the last decade. I would like to suggest a comprehension of postsecularism as a kind of pluralism.

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Cultural Pluralism and Epistemic Injustice

Abstract

For liberalism, values such as respect, reciprocity, and tolerance should frame cultural encounters in multicultural societies. However, it is easy to disregard that power differences and political domination also influence the cultural sphere and the relations between cultural groups. In this essay, I focus on some challenges for cultural pluralism. In relation to Indian political theorist Rajeev Bhargava, I discuss the meaning of cultural domination and epistemic injustice and their historical and moral implications. Bhargava argued that as a consequence of colonialism, “indigenous cultures” were inferiorized, marginalized, and anonymized. Although cultures are often changing due to external influences, I argue that epistemic injustice implies that a culture is forced to subjection, disrespected, and considered as inferior and that it threatens the dominated people’s epistemic framework, collective identity, and existential security. Finally, I refer to John Rawls’s theory of political liberalism as a constructive approach to avoid parochialism and Western cultural domination.

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Pluralism and Conflict: The Debate about “Russian Values” and Politics of Identity

Abstract

This article addresses the issue of the plurality of Russian identities. The role of the “otherness” (as embodied by Catholicism) in Russian identity is addressed. The stereotype idea of the two traditionally opposed identities, those of elite and common people is corrected by suggesting a third Russian identity, shaped by the followers of the Old Belief after the split of the Russian Church. In analyzing this identity, one should consider not only the intertwined political and religious dimensions of the Russian identity but also its historical dimension. The Old Believers, owing to their worldview and way of thought, gave rise to a new anthropological figure which contrasts with the stereotyped image of the Russian grounded in the history of serfdom and rural community. This new type of Russian identity is associated with democratic governance, rigorous way of life, higher rationality, and dynamic and successful economic activity. Nevertheless, the history of the Russian Raskol reveals a latent conflict inherent in the Russian past and present and underlying Russian identities. Unlike the religious wars in Europe, this conflict received no resolution; instead, it has been repressed and therefore keeps latently affecting the Russian present. Present-day Russia should draw inspiration in the religious and political heritage of the Old Believers, if the conflict is to be resolved.

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Desperately Seeking Understanding: A New Perspective on Multiculturalism

Abstract

This paper proposes a discussion of the Muslim presence in modern Western Europe and the trends that accompany it. The author argues that such debates could not be conducted in the absence of Muslims themselves and introduces Ziauddin Sardar (a modern British Muslim intellectual) and his thinking on “multiculturalism”. Sardar’s vision on the matter radically differs from the traditional interpretations, which usually involve European Union policies regarding ethnic minorities. Sardar’s theory is built on a broader context and develops such concepts as “diversity”, “identity”, and “power”. His approach transcends the boundaries of a limited geographic area and could be applied to non-Western regions. The author attempts to apply it to Kazakhstan, in an attempt to see how it could work in the Kazakh sociocultural context. The main focus is on the ethnic and religious characteristics of the Republic. Finally, the paper contains some suggestions for the further development of Sardar’s theory of multiculturalism. The conclusions offer a justification of the possibility and necessity to transform the idea of “multiculturalism” into “interculturalism”.

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Ethnic Identity of Kazakhstani Russians: The Dynamics of Change and the Place of Russia as a Kin State

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to find out how the ethnic identity of Russians residing in Kazakhstan has changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. What qualities and characteristics distinguish ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan now? What are the main factors shaping their identity? To what extent Russians see aligned with their homeland and with the mainstream Kazakh society. What is the role of Russia in promoting a sense of attachment to the homeland? The case of Kazakhstani Russians was analyzed applying the various methods of qualitative research, including surveys, in-depth interviews, content analysis of the publications, and the speeches of political figures and activists. In addition, the methods of participant observation helped in understanding the cultural differentiation of the Russian religious organizations in Kazakhstan. The research revealed the significant changes in the identity patterns of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan, which resulted from the process of consolidation of the vigorous state-protected ethnic Kazakh identity. Losing the previous dominant position in demography, the Russians bowed to the inevitable Kazakhification of the society. The change in the language preferences shows that the new generation of Russians is gradually accepting the new trend – Kazakh–Russian bilingualism – which is being promoted and implemented by the government of Kazakhstan and by the overwhelmingly ethnocratic Kazakh political elite.

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From Saint Sava to Milosevic – The Pantheon of (Anti)heroes in Serbian Presidential Election (2017)

Abstract

This article aims to analyze the presidential campaign in Serbia (2017). It focuses on the presence of different significant figures from Serbian history and culture in the public sphere. It begins by presenting the pantheon of eminent figures in the history of Serbia. Next, the presidential election and its results are briefly described. Then, the text investigates the question what kind of eminent figures, by whom, and in which context were used in the last Serbian presidential campaign. The conclusion summarizes the specifics of the use of historical characters for political aims in that case.

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People as the Roots (of the State): Democratic Elements in the Politics of Traditional Vietnamese Confucianism

Abstract

In this paper, the concept of “people as the roots” (of the state) is explored through its myriad expressions in Vietnamese history: the emphasis of Vietnamese feudal rulers on fulfilling the people’s will, loving the people, and ensuring peace for the people. From these historical examples, the authors argue that in the politics of Vietnamese traditional Confucianism, there has been the presence of democratic elements. Yet, they do not reflect a full-fledged democracy and should be seen only as signs of village democracy. This view holds an important implication for the process of democratization of modern Vietnamese society: while the concept of “people as the roots” is essential for a village democracy and is valuable for building a democracy, it does not necessarily mean a straightforward translation to a modern democracy. Here, the authors suggest that civil society will play an important role in making this transition smoother.

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Shadow Memorial Diplomacy: The Ronald Reagan Centennial Year in Central and Eastern Europe

Abstract

This article examines the use of the memorialization of Reagan in transatlantic relations – specifically in the commemorations of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Year in 2011 in Central and Eastern Europe. Extrapolating from the case of Hungary, the article argues that because of the contemporary political status of its drivers and its oblique message, the Reagan Centennial’s campaign in Central Europe can be called “shadow” memorial diplomacy, which in 2011 used the former president’s memory to articulate and strengthen a model of U.S. leadership and foreign policy parallel to and ready to replace those of the then Obama administration. This study can serve as an international extension of previous scholarship on the politics of the memory of Ronald Reagan within the United States, as well as a case study of the use of memory in international relations.

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The Transformation of the Crimean Tatars’ Institutions and Discourses After 2014

Abstract

The article deals with the transformation of the Crimean Tatars’ institutions and discourses after the 2014 conflict around Crimea. It shows the change in the balance of power of traditional institutions such as Mejlis and Muftiyat, which for many years represented secular and religious components of Crimean Tatars’ ethnic identity. It tells how the Mejlis was dismissed from the political stage in Crimea, while the Muftiyat has enjoyed a great support by new authorities. This transformation and threats to societal security inevitably led to reassessment of previous views and goals of the main actors in the Crimean Tatar community and the formation of new institutions with hybrid composition and discourse. The article focuses on organization such as ‘Crimean solidarity,’ which was formed in 2016 as a reaction to authorities’ pressure over the Crimean Tatars. Using discourse analysis of statements of activists of this organization and content analysis of social media, the author presents the main topics of its discourse and types of activity. She shows how the traditional Islamic discourse of activists of this organization has been transformed by the incorporation of the main concepts of secular discourse developed by the Mejlis. The author argues that the appearance of ‘Crimean solidarity’ indicates the blurring of lines between secular and religious, and ethnic and Islamic in the Crimean Tatar society. It shows how people with different backgrounds and agendas manage to leave their differences aside to support each other in the face of a common threat.

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New Cosmopolitanisms, Race, and Ethnicity
Cultural Perspectives
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