What Good is Theory? Religion, Critique, and Truth

What Good is Theory? Religion, Critique, and Truth

Wednesday, April 28, 2021  •  10:30am PDT/AZ, 1:30pm EDT  •  Online, via Zoom

A joint event of the ASU Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the Political Theology Network, and the Villanova Political Theology Project.

Theory in its critical modality can show us what the world conceals. It can name and challenge the obfuscations of wealth, whiteness, patriarchy, and power in its multitude of forms. But does it reveal truth? If not, what kinds of relation to truth might theory pursue? Do theory’s critical commitments make it necessarily proximate to the secular? Is there a place in critical theory for what we might call critical theology?  Or, inversely, what is the place of critique within political theology? What might allow elements within critical theory and elements of religious traditions to engage in converging projects, around truth, power, or the good?

Host: Tracy Fessenden
Moderator:  Vincent Lloyd 

Mayanthi L. Fernando
Andrew Prevot
Inese Radzins
Jason J. Storm

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About the panelists:

Vincent Lloyd (moderator) is associate professor of religious studies and of global interdisciplinary studies at Villanova University. He directs the Villanova Political Theology Project, co-edits the journal Political Theology, and directs Villanova’s Africana studies program. Lloyd’s books include "Religion of the Field Negro: On Black Secularism and Black Theology" (Fordham, 2017), "In Defense of Charisma" (Columbia, 2018), and "Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice, and the Abolition of Prisons" (Oxford, 2019, with Joshua Dubler).

Mayanthi L. Fernando is associate professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She works on religion, secularism, bodies, and the senses, and is the author of “The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism” (Duke University Press, 2014). She is currently writing a book on the secularity of the post-humanist turn that asks whether “natureculture” – a reversal of the distinction between nature and the human – might be extended to “supernatureculture.”

Andrew Prevot, associate professor of theology at Boston College, writes and teaches at the intersection of spiritual, mystical, systematic, and liberation theologies; phenomenology; and continental philosophies of religion. His publications include: “Thinking Prayer: Theology and Spirituality Amid the Crises of Modernity” (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015); “Theology and Race: Black and Womanist Traditions in the United States” (Brill, 2018); “Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics.” coedited with Vincent Lloyd (Orbis Books, 2017). He is currently working on his next book, “The Mysticism of Ordinary Life: Theology, Philosophy, and Feminism.”

Inese Radzins is an assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Stanislaus. Her research spans the broad area of social and political philosophy and focuses on the work of the French thinker, Simone Weil. She is currently working on a book, entitled The Spirit of Labor: Simone Weil’s Political Theology.

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm is professor and chair in the department of religion and chair in science and technology studies at Williams College. Storm's research focuses on Japanese religions, European intellectual history from 1600 to the present, and theory in religious studies. His more recent work has discussed disenchantment and philosophy of social science. He is the author of “The Invention of Religion in Japan” and “The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences”, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021 • 10:30am PDT/AZ, 1:30pm EDT
Online, via Zoom