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عرفان های فرامدرن: مواجهه روایی با معنویت های سکولار غرب معاصر
Metamodern Mysticisms: Narrative Encounters with Contemporary Western Secular Spiritualities
The phenomenon of secular spirituality has grown increasingly visible in the contemporary Western world in the past two decades. From oral or written narratives of life-altering realizations that unchurched individuals describe using spiritual vernacular, to the plethora of encounters with the supernatural and paranormal depicted in popular culture, broad interest in and even comfort with mystical and non-ordinary experience is found more than ever in contexts not considered traditionally religious. The spiritual but not religious (SBNR) identity as a Western contemporary idiom in some sense curates this secular-spiritual space in the current cultural landscape. This project seeks to ask how, why now, and to what effect.
To do so, I examine the SBNR and popular cultural instances of lay spiritual encounters that I am calling “secondhand mysticism.” Looking at how contemporary individuals encounter the mystical and non-ordinary will help shed light on the phenomenon of decontextualized, secular mystical experiences themselves, and will help consider new frameworks for viewing some of the central debates within mysticism studies. These types of encounters trouble the well-trodden perennialism-constructivism binary, and will consequently be a rich inroad to illuminating the larger epistemic terrain that undergirds the SBNR that I refer to as metamodernism.
This project seeks to add to two types of recent efforts that have forged new theoretical bases for interdisciplinary scholarship in the 21st century: The first is the scholarly engagement with mysticisms as a “gnostic” enterprise. I will explore the idea that a gnostic scholarly perspective, one that neither negates nor endorses any individual’s particular truth claims but instead generates third positions, has the possibility of accessing, performing and/or even, at its most extreme, producing a secondhand mystical moment of “Aha!”
The second current interdisciplinary project is the theorizing of metamodernism. Previous studies of the SBNR, of popular culture mysticism, and indeed of this gnostic position, I will argue here, have yet to account for and situate the emergence of this secular-spiritual sensibility within recent shifts in the contemporary Western cultural episteme (a term I borrow from the Foucauldian schema). Whereas the debate dominating mysticism studies that has for decades hinged on a central bifurcation pitting universalism against contextualism is, arguably, the product of modern and postmodern views colliding, I will take the position that the SBNR and the gnostic approach to viewing secular mystical phenomena are something else. That something else, I assert here, is the product and/or producer of a so-called metamodern shift, in which the Western cultural frame enacts a kind of collective emergence out from under the thumb of hyper-relativization and irony, among other postmodern ideas.
Metamodernism factors into my study of second-hand mysticisms as a theoretical tool in three senses: as an instrument of historical contextualization or periodization; as an emerging narrative container in the figuring of the SBNR that gives contour to the secular and spiritual bridges and to the Western encounter with “the East”; and as a way of accounting for specific types of content that secular popular culture brings to the exploration of mysticisms.
To examine the theoretical work metamodernism can do, I first locate the SBNR in currents of American spiritualities by identifying some of its major narratives as metamodern. I illustrate the intersection of these in chapters one and three by looking at instances of neo-Advaita Vedanta spirituality as performed through the figure of Russell Brand and other contemporary expositors. In chapter two, I use popular culture depictions of monsters such as those in Joss Whedon’s cult television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to show how metamodern monsters have shifted narratives of the monstrous Other in a manner that highlights social shifts toward pluralism and inclusivism. Other ethical considerations related to this post-postmodern epistemic shift will be discussed in chapter four. There I also continue to make my case for the efficacy of theorization of a new episteme—in simple terms, to say why and when the signifier postmodernism needs replacing and what doing so will accomplish for the academic study of religion.
Each chapter includes analysis of different types of mystical narrative: In chapter one, an anonymous account from a contemporary “ordinary mystic”, in chapter two, those of fictional television characters, and in chapter three, from a highly visible celebrity—each for how they convey personal transformation and understanding of the secular-spiritual qualities such as I identify here and also for how they illuminate a metamodern immanent soteriology, giving transformational power to the viewer/reader, who becomes, in effect, a secondhand mystic.
مدرنیسم اسلامی در چین: نخبگان مسلمان چینی، ملت سازی گومیندانگ و محدودیت های امت جهانی، 1900-1960
Islamic Modernism in China: Chinese Muslim Elites, Guomindang Nation-Building, and the Limits of the Global Umma, 1900-1960
Modern Chinese Muslims’ increasing connections with the Islamic world conditioned and were conditioned by their elites’ integrationist politics in China. Chinese Muslims (the “Hui”) faced a predicament during the Qing and Ottoman empire-to-nation transitions, seeking both increased contact with Muslims outside China and greater physical and sociopolitical security within the new Chinese nation-state. On the one hand, new communication and transport technologies allowed them unprecedented opportunities for transnational dialogue after centuries of real and perceived isolation. On the other, the Qing’s violent suppression of Muslim uprisings in the late nineteenth century loomed over them, as did the inescapable Han-centrism of Chinese nationalism, the ongoing intercommunal tensions between Muslims and Han, and the general territorial instability of China’s Republican era (1911–49). As a result, Islamic modernism—a set of positions emphasizing both reason and orthodoxy, and arguing that true or original Islam is compatible with science, education, democracy, women’s rights, and other “modern” norms—took on new meanings in the context of Chinese nation-making. In an emerging dynamic, ethos, and discourse of “transnationalist integrationism,” leading Chinese Muslims transformed Islamic modernism, a supposedly foreign body of thought meant to promote unity and renewal, into a reservoir of concepts and arguments to explain and justify the place of Islam and Muslims in China, and in so doing made it an integral component of Chinese state- and nation-building.
“Islamic Modernism in China” argues that Chinese Muslims’ transregional engagement with Islamic modernism did not subvert but enabled the Chinese government’s domestic and foreign policies toward Muslims, and ultimately facilitated the nationalization of Muslim identity in modern China. From Qing collapse through the Second World War, urban coastal Chinese Muslim religious and political elites imported, read, debated, disseminated, and translated classic Islamic texts and modern Muslim print media, while establishing their own modernist schools and publications. Yet those same figures, through those same practices and institutions, increasingly wielded an image of Islamic authority and authenticity in support of the nationalist Guomindang government’s efforts to develop, integrate, and Sinicize China’s frontiers, including the predominantly Sufi Muslim communities of the Northwest.
In the 1930s and early 1940s, integrationist Chinese Muslim elites further mobilized modernist narratives of Islam’s rationality, peacefulness, and past and present “contributions” to China. For example, they responded to Islamophobic misperceptions about halal by arguing that Islamic medicine was an important part of Chinese medicine. They also dispatched nationalistic goodwill delegations to the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China’s own frontiers during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), to pursue cultural cooperation and spread anti-Japanese propaganda. At the same time, in contrast to this instrumentalized Islam, certain Chinese Muslim scholars studying in Cairo instead articulated an expansive, democratized version of the Islamic concept of independent human reason (ijtihad ) as the basis for a more inclusive vision of both Chinese nationalism and the global Islamic community (umma). The opportunity to pursue this or any other alternative to mere integrationism soon evaporated, however, as the renewed Chinese Civil War (1945-49) split the Chinese Muslim elites across the Mainland, Taiwan, and a variety of Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Thereafter, the Chinese Muslim elites largely became marginalized from high politics in the era of Cold-War and decolonization. Many of their once-contingent narratives of history and identity, however, have nevertheless been normalized as the canonical truth of Chinese Islam to this day, quietly informing China’s minority policies, foreign relations, and rhetoric of the “New Silk Road.”
“Islamic Modernism in China” is a history of the subsumption of modern forms of mobility by modern structures of power. It narrates an assertion of difference in the context of multiple, partially overlapping integrations: the integration of a Han-centric idea of the Chinese nation-state, of an Arabo-centric idea of the Islamic world, and of a Eurocentric system of global infrastructures, institutions, networks, and knowledge. It de-parochializes the modern history of Chinese Muslims, showing how they epitomized aspirations and challenges common to Muslim minorities across many large non-Muslim societies and, to an extent, to modern Muslims everywhere. Using a wide range of new or under-studied archival and published sources in Chinese and Arabic, it connects questions of the meaning and scope of Islam, Islamic community, and Islamic modernism (scholarship on which tends to prioritize the Arab Middle East and relations with the West) to questions of religion and state in modern China (scholarship on which tends to prioritize popular spirituality and the official Confucian system, as well as relations with the West). (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.)