on the Formation and Function of the Category 'Religion' in anarchist writing

Tremlett, Paul-Francois (2004). on the Formation and Function of the Category 'Religion' in anarchist writing. Culture and Religion, 5(3) pp. 367–381.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0143830042000294424

Abstract

Recent works by Asad, McCutcheon and Fitzgerald have sought to call into question the category 'religion' in social anthropology and religious studies. The purpose of this essay is to explore the formation and function of the category religion in anarchist writing. Taking the mid-nineteenth century as a rough point of departure, I demonstrate that the formation and function of religion as a category in anarchist writing reflects wider constructions and imaginings of modernity through which religion emerges as a cipher for thinking about the past. I will argue that the function of the category religion in anarchist writing is to order relations between past and present. Specifically, where 'anarcho-modernist' writing broadly constitutes religion and the past as conditions to be overcome, 'anarcho-romanticist' writing articulates a generalised nostalgia for religion and the past, although it should be noted that religion is rarely dealt with in any systematic way in anarchist writing. I will conclude by suggesting that although anarchist writing is a marginal corpus of literature, the category religion is constituted along similar lines and fulfils similar functions in both anthropological and phenomenological writings on religion.

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