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Session Overview
RN32_08b_P: (Post-)Secular Subjectivities in European Societies II
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Carlo Ruzza, University of Trento
Location: PD.2.34
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: D, Level: 2.

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Religion and atheism in contemporary Greek society: The construction of the atheist identity within a Greek-Orthodox milieu


Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens, Greece

Until very recently the dominant perception for the Greek society was that more than 95 per cent of the population was Greek Orthodox. In 2012 an Atheist Union was founded in Greece and many people have started to discuss their atheism or non-belief especially through the social media. The purpose of this paper is to present some preliminary findings of an ongoing qualitative research about Greek atheists. The main questions that are going to be answered in this paper are: who are the Greek atheists in contemporary Greek society? How they ‘de-converted’ from the Greek-Orthodox traditional religion and how their family responded to this rapture with their past? Which are their beliefs about God, religion, morality and life? The main purpose is to understand how the atheist identity is constructed in contemporary Greek society, which is a Greek-Orthodox society and the Orthodox Church still maintains powerful bonds with the state functioning as its ideological apparatus. On the other hand, the Greek state, far away from being considered as fully secularised, collaborates with and protects the Orthodox Church in case it feels threatened by either ‘religious others’ or non-believers, atheists and secularists. The material of the analysis is based on conducted semi-structured interviews with people who are self-characterised as either atheists or agnostics both male and female.

Contentious Politics in Transitional Societies: The Rise and (Partial) Success of the Conservative Religious-political Movement in Croatia

Antonija Petricusic, Mateja Cehulic, Dario Cepo

University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law, Croatia

This paper explores a connection between religion and contemporary politics in Croatia by analyzing a cycle of contention in which the conservative civic initiative “In the Name of the Family” (U ime obitelji) managed to collect more than 700,000 signatures in May 2013 which served as a ground for a nation-wide referendum in November 2013 which introduced the Constitutional definition of marriage as an exclusive union of a man and a woman. This civic initiative is a segment of a broader religious-political movement that emerged in the course of the last decade and that seems connected globally to other conservative organizations and initiatives that advocate for decrease of secular influence on the family, oppose sexual and reproductive rights and argue in favor of religious freedoms. The religious nature of the Croatian religious-political movement is confirmed by an array of issues that the movement has chosen as it cultural frame: protection of a traditional family; opposition to a same-sex marriage; protection of life from an inception to a natural death; advocating the rights of parents to decide on the value-related content of their children’s education. The political nature of the movement is manifested through its attempts to scrap the legislation and practices of both state and private institutions that are contradicting the value system of the Catholic majority. The religious-political nexus of the movement is confirmed by its continuous involvement in law and policy making.

Secularism in ‘the State’ Contested: Rethinking New ‘Ideology’ of Secularism in the Context of Politics of Hegemony in Turkey

Damla Ercan

Hacettepe University, Turkey

Turkey and France were used to be mentioned together to indicate extreme country-specific cases in terms of enforcement of secularism, however, now it appears that France is being left alone in discussions and criticisms. Then, what did happen to secularism in Turkey? Starting from 2012, the Constitutional Court, which is the state institution having monopolistic authority to determine meaning and content of the constitutional principle of secularism within ‘state-system’, abandoned its deep-seated precedent based on a particular ideology of secularism recognized with its hostility towards religion, and it adopted a new ‘ideology’ of secularism accentuating importance of freedom of religion, stressing its social value, and putting ‘state’ in service of (majority) religion. This paper problematizes the shift in the ‘ideology’ of secularism in a strategic state institution, and through documentary research over the judgements of the Court, it examines how ‘ideology’ of secularism upheld by ‘the state’ had transformed and discusses the change in official ‘ideology’ of secularism as part of ‘ideological-political’ project of ‘hegemonic’ articulation of Justice and Development Party (the JDP/ the AKP) in power. Thus, how an alternative ‘ideology’ of secularism played a significant role in building a social alliance in early years of the hegemonic strategies of the JDP by contesting established practices of secularism and how this new ‘ideology’ became integrated in ‘the state’ are evaluated. The paper also explores in which ways the implementation of new ‘ideology’ of secularism by ‘the state’ connects to changing strategies of hegemony and ‘common-sense’ sociality intended to be reproduced.

Can Political Islamists be “Moderate”? : 15th July Military Coup Attempt

Tolga Gurakar

Maltepe University, Turkey

On 15 July 2016, Turkey witnessed a non-hierarchical military coup attempt that was commanded by the members of the “moderate” Islamist community, “Cemaat”, which was the fundamental ally of the governing conservative party, AKP (Justice and Development Party), between 2002-2013. In this paper the term “moderate Islam” that was once thought to “liberalize” the Muslim majority countries will be criticized in terms of the interactions between the standpoints of the AKP and the “Cemaat”. Using the “field analysis” approach of Pierre Bourdieu and his conceptual tools, first the “sub-fields” within which these factions operate (e.g. targeting de-facto political power through investing in intellectual capital and placing its members in the civil and military bureaucracy versus aiming at de-jure political power through investing in political capital via party competition) will be analyzed. Then the historical evolution paths of these movements and how the clash of different paths has led to inescapable outcomes will be presented.

The main question is: Can any type of a political Islamist movement be “moderate”? My hypothesis is that their diverse “capitals” may lead them to apply a “moderate” strategy to achieve the state power. However, this does not mean that their “radical habitus” peters out totally. Thus, in “critical” circumstances this “extremism” can be determinant like the coup attempt of the “Cemaat” and the post-coup authoritarian policies of AKP that aim to dismantle all types of checks and balances over governing institutions.

Keywords: moderate Islam, 15th July coup attempt, AKP, Cemaat, Pierre Bourdieu

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