Gad Barzilai, “Legal Categorizations and Religion: Politics of Modernity, Faith and Power” in Austin Sarat (ed.) Companion to Law and Society (NYC and London: Blackwell, 2004) pp. 392-409.

Legal Categorizations and Religion: Politics of Modernity, Faith and Power


Western constitutionalism and modern liberalism have constructed and promoted the problematic hegemonic myth of separation of religion from state and politics in democracies (Carter, 1995). Yet, a careful and critical analysis of modern politics, law, and society, which deconstructs formal legal categorizations would point to the irreducible significant role of religion in modern states, laws, and legal ideologies. As this article expounds, whilst institutional and cultural variances between and among political regimes and religions exist, religion in the midst of neo-liberal transnational and international expansion (‘globalization’) is prominent as a sociopolitical and legal force. Religion is conspicuous in various states and societies despite of– even in reaction to and as part of– the ethos and practices of secular rationality and teleological modernity in the outset of the third millenium.


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