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Religious Nationalism

Religious Nationalism

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Published by: DeboraInesPinto on Jan 02, 2012
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Money, Sex, and God: The Erotic Logic of Religious NationalismAuthor(s): Roger FriedlandSource:
Sociological Theory,
Vol. 20, No. 3 (Nov., 2002), pp. 381-425Published by: American Sociological AssociationStable URL:
Accessed: 02/02/2009 13:39
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Money,Sex,and God:TheEroticLogicofReligiousNationalism*
ROGERFRIEDLANDUniversityofCaliforniaGodis onceagainafootin thepublic sphere.Politicshas becomeareligiousobliga-tion. For a new breedof religiousnationalistthe nation-stateis avehicleofthe divine.Thisessayseeks toaccomplish fourthings.Thefirstis toargue foraninstitutionalapproachtoreligiousnationalism in order both tointerpretandexplainit.Second,Iarguethatreligionand nationalismpartake ofacommonsymbolicorder and thatreligiousnationalismisthereforenotanoxymoron.Third,theessayseeks toexplainwhy religionhas become suchapotentpoliticalforcein our time.Andfourth-thetaskthat will takeupthe bulkofthe text-it seeks aprincipleofintelligibilityin the semioticorderofreligiousnationalism that cancomprehendtspreoccupationwith both wom-en's erotic bodies and moniesoutofnational control.THE INSTITUTIONAL SOURCESOFRELIGIOUS NATIONALISMReligiousnationalismmust be understood in terms of its own culturalpremises,notsimplyas a mediationof forces fromelsewhere,as a sublimate of economicgrievanceoracarrierofgroupidentity,asamedium for old classpoliticsor newidentitypolitics(Foran1993;Lawrence1998).Itistrue thatsupportforreligiousnationalismiscentered in the urbanmiddle class.Thatsupportcannot beinterpretedin termsof material class interest.Itsmiddle-class adherentssometimes hail fromrising(professionals)and sometimes declin-ing(bazaarmerchants andartisans)components.Itssupporters justas often areexperi-encingmaterialgainsas losses. In the UnitedStates,amajorityof the Christianrightbasecommunitiesreportthat their economic situation hasimprovedover the last decade(Smith1998).InIran,althoughthebazaar-based merchants facedcompetitionfromthe modernindustrialgroups-particularlyin the wholesalesector-and increased taxationandprice-controlsfrom the Shah'sgovernment,their incomes roserapidlyundertheShah(Bakhash1984:190-91).Moreover,religiousnationalism drawssignificant supportfrom outside themiddle class.Riesebrodt has shown that thepursuitofclass-specificmaterialbenefitswasamarginal partof the fundamentalistagendabothinthepre-WWIIperiodinthe UnitedStatesandduringKhomeini'srevolution inpost-WWIIIran(Riesebrodt1993:195).Inthe1980sinthe UnitedStates,theChristianright'sMoralMajority's10-point agendadid notinclude asingleeconomicissue(Iannaccone 1993).
*Thisessaydraws fromalargerbook,TheSexofState:ReligiousNationalismand the ProblemofCollectiveRepresentation,uponwhich I amcurrentlyat work.Inwritingthisessay,I have had the benefit ofgenerous,vexed,andfascinatingconversations withmanyfriends andcolleagues.Amongthoseto whom ImostgratefulareJeffreyAlexander,RobertAlford,and RobinWagner-Pacifici,all of whomreadandcriticizedmytext.RobinWagner-Pacifici,nparticular,demandedthat Ispeaksex toeconomics.Iam also indebtedto ThomasCarlson,DavidCarrasco,FinbarrCurtis,MarkElmore,JanedeHart,RichardHecht,MarkJuergensmeyer,SeanLandres,JohnMohr,Dwight Reynolds,WilliamRobert,ClarkRoof,JonathanZ.Smith,ElisabethWeber,WendyWise-man,and VivianaZelizer.I would also like to thank theanonymousreviewersofSociological Theory,notallofwhosesuggestionsIcouldpursueatthis time.FinallyI have had the benefit ofdemandingaudiencesat theInstitutefor theHumanities,UniversityofMichigan,DepartmentofReligiousStudies, UCSB,the ScuolaSupe-riore at theUniversityofPavia,theSouthernCaliforniaInstituteofArchitecture,and the Center orComparativeStudies atYaleUniversity.Addresscorrespondenceo:RogerFriedland,DepartmentofReligiousStudies andSociology, UniversityofCalifornia,SantaBarbara,CA;e-mail:friedland@soc.ucsb.edu.SociologicalTheory20:3 November2002?AmericanSociologicalAssociation. 1307 New YorkAvenueNW,Washington,DC 20005-4701
 
SOCIOLOGICALTHEORYNor isreligiousnationalisminterpretableasamiddle-class statuspolitics,a classicalinterpretationf newrightpolitics (Lipset1963).Given its variable andoftencapaciousclassbase,neithercanreligiousnationalismbeadequatelygraspedasareactive defense oftheprestigeof the traditionalmiddle classagainstarisingmodern middle classbasedintechnicalexpertiseorcorporateandgovernmentaloffice(Riesebrodt1993:86-87,188-89).AsRiesebrodthimself has showninpointingtothematerialrequirementsorrepro-ducingthetraditionalmiddle-classmilieu,recognitionand resourcesare toointerdependentto decide where onebeginsand the other ends.Andalthoughthesalaried and merchantmiddle classes are thedemographiccenterofreligiousnationalistmovements,thesemove-ments drawfrom all classes.Religiousnationalism annotbeexplainedandhenceinterpretedn termsofclass-specificmaterialor statusnjury (Simpson1983:201-02).Neither can it beunderstoodasaprojectofreligiousinclusion,ofgrouprepresentation.Nor is itmerelyaclericalpower-play.Reli-giousnationalistmovements are often ledbythelaity,notthe clerics(Arjomand1995).To understandeligiousnationalism,we mustfirstlysituateitnotintermsofthegroupbasesofitssupport,but as aninstitutionalproject. Religiousnationalism'sculturalorderderives as muchfromthe institutionalspaceit inhabits as from the socialpositionoftheindividualswhobecomereligiousnationalists. To understandreligiousnationalism,wemustbeginnot withthepowerrelations betweengroups,but withaninstitutionalarchi-tectureof thesocial. Itisinstitutional,notcultural,autonomyhat sofpoliticalconsequence.Modern societies arecomposedof apluralityof distinctinstitutions. Institutions areboth cultural and social.Theyaretransrationalwaysoforganizing personsandobjectsinspaceand time(Friedlandand Alford1991).Andtheyarethemselvesspacesandtimes,locationsin which thosepersonsandobjectscarryparticularmeanings.Just as weanalyzethe democratic state or thecapitalistmarketinterms of its owncategoriesofpractice,categoriesthat constitute the content of interests at stake withinthem,we must startfromreligiousnationalism'sontologyofthesocial,the culturalspecificityof itspowers.Suchanapproachnotonlyaffords hermeneuticadequacybut willhelpaccountforreligion'spoliticalcapacitiesand theorganizationof itsproject.Withinanyinstitution,therelationshipsbetweenpersonsandobjectsareorganizedthrough practices premisedonparticularontologies,ontologiesknowableonly throughthesepractices.These institutionalontologies specifyor afford substances-state sover-eignty,bureaucraticrationality,democraticrepresentation,amiliallove,religiousfaith,capitalistproperty,cientificknowledge-whose realityisperformedasmuchasrevealedthroughroutinizedpracticesenactedby agentswhoseidentityand interestare tied to thosesubstancesand the real relations both whichtheymakepossibleand thatconjurethemintoexistence.Thesesubstances are known-made accountable andactionable-throughtheproceduresbywhichtheyareproducedanddistributed.n the modernworld,one "makes"or enacts lovethroughpracticesofkinshipand its sensuousbodilysolidarities and exclu-sions,democraticrepresentation hroughelections,profit throughmonetized networks ofexchangebetween holders of differentproperties,themselves knownonlythroughtherightsregulatingtheseexchanges.Love,democracy,andprofitareontological"substanc-es,"necessarilyimmanent n institutionalpractice,done,but nevertrulyhad.'
'Inphilosophy,substances eitherare,alaJohnLocke,unknowableparticulars experiencedthroughtheirattributesor are reduced toabundleofproperties.Mynotion of institutional substanceposesaconundrum.Iflove andpropertycannot bedirectly experienced,theycannotbe identified as an attribute f relations.Yet neitheris it amaterialhingthat would allow itto functionin theconventional sense asa carrierorsupportor attributes.Thereis awayinwhichmy usageofthe term formeaningful materialitycorrespondso Locke'sassumptionofasubstratum,which he called"somethingI know not what"supportingthepropertiesofthings.Institutionalsubstances are notthings, yettheyareindependentandunobservableparticularssupporting tightlystructuredbundles ofproperties (Armstrong1989).
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