As people around the world grapple with the rise of religious fundamentalism and its concomitant influence on international politics and public policy, certain religious scholars have become pseudo-celebrities. These activist academics and scholar/commentators share high visibility in print and on radio and television, frequently opining on everything from evangelical Christianity in America to the rise of fundamentalist Islam in the Middle East. So let's throw another topic out there for them: what role does religious diversity play in a modern democracy?
Talal Asad, a post-colonial theorist and anthropologist, aims to address this subject—specifically the role of secularism as a framework for imagining a religiously diverse democracy—during this year's highly anticipated Wellek Library Lectures at UC Irvine. Sponsored by UCI's Critical Theory Institute, Asad's series of three lectures, titled "Thinking About Suicide Bombing," will outline the ways in which religion and secularism are integral components of modernity.