Postsecular History: Political Theology and the Politics of Time
Slated for publication in 2021 in Palgrave MacMillan’s Radical Theologies and Philosophies series, Postsecular History: Political Theology and the Politics of Time seeks to revisit and revise the theological and political character of periodization by tracing powerful efforts to divide time into past, present, and future, and by critiquing political partitions of history into the Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Postmodern. In the book I develop a critique of theopolitical periodization, specifically concerning the proclamation of novelty and succession in the prefix ‘post’ that precedes the ‘postsecular.’
Spanning several disciplines while engaging in the close reading of several key texts in political theology, the book revises and extends my work on the historiography of the Radical Reformation (Political Theology, 2018) and early Enlightenment (Studies in Religion, 2017), the politics of autobiographical periodization in Nietzsche and Augustine (Telos, 2019), and the technological mediations of time in postmodernity (rhizomes, 2018).
Contemporary approaches to both the meaning of history and the experience of time continue to follow patterns that are simultaneously political and theological. Even after the postsecular turn and its critiques of Christianity, religion, and secularity, divisions of both historical and autobiographical time continue to be formed by providential narratives that mediate experience and expectation and economize time through movements from promise to fulfilment. Consequently, in the postsecular landscape the contested categories of Christianity, religion, and secularity are not only conceptually distinguished, but they also rest upon temporal distinctions that have undergone incomplete and uneven secularizations.
Given the persistently theological characteristics of time and history, Postsecular History revisits and revises the concept of periodization by tracing powerful efforts to divide time into past, present, and future, and by critiquing political partitions of history into the Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Postmodern. Developing a critique of theopolitical periodization in six chapters, Postsecular History questions how relations of novelty, succession, and freedom implied in the prefix ‘post’ are reproduced in the discourse on the postsecular and in the field of political theology.
By uncovering periodizing gestures in the economic turn in Political Theology (Chapter 1), the history of radicalism and dissent between the Reformation and Enlightenment (Chapters 2 and 3), the temporal politics of autobiography in Nietzsche and Augustine (Chapter 4), and the technological politics of time in postmodernity (Chapter 5), Postsecular History addresses both the acceleration of time and the loss of its measure. The study closes with an examination of the everyday experience of waiting (Chapter 6), before concluding with an argument for renewed figural approaches to the problems of time and history in the postsecular context.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Political Theology and the Politics of Time
Chapter 2. Postsecular History and the Seventeenth Century Dutch Collegiants
Chapter 3. Emancipatory History in Taubes, Müntzer, and the Anabaptists
Chapter 4. Periodization and Providence between Nietzsche and Augustine
Chapter 5. The Regulation of the Subject by the Technology of Time
Chapter 6. Dorothee Sölle’s Postsecular Political Theology of Waiting