Secular institutional structures and the production of sameness in contexts of religious pluralism

Convener: Dr. Katja Rakow (UU).



The panel looks at the interplay of secular and religious formations in different geographical contexts characterized by religious pluralism. While subscribing to granting religious freedom, secular states have several measures in place to regulate religion and thereby to structure the recognition, representation, and expression of religious beliefs, forms, and practices within secular, but religiously plural contexts. Although secular states and institutions acknowledge a diversity of religious affiliations, we explore how secular institutional structures often result in the production of sameness, as they are informed by normative accounts of what religion (properly) is, and backed by the idea of treating all religions in an equal manner. The papers of the panel present case studies from different geographical contexts such as Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Each paper analyses how secular institutional structures produce sameness and thereby a normative picture of what counts as “proper” religion within a specific national context, and what the effects of such practices are for religious actors, organizations and their representation.


Speakers so far: 
  • The making of belief in secular times: producing ‘sincere’ conversion within asylum claims - Annelise Reid (UU)
  • Building peace and countering violent extremism: the production of sameness through ‘interfaith’ civil society engagement at the Kenyan coast - Erik Meinema (UU)
  • Regulating religion and the production of ‘Religious Harmony’ in Singapore - Katja Rakow (UU)