Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 12

9 December, 2008 HANEDA Masashi, Secularization, Religion, State

  The 12th session of the Seminar “Secularization, Religion, and State” was held on 24th November.

  In this session, Prof. Jean Baubérot (director emeritus of EPHE) delivered a lecture, titled “Sécularisation et Laïcisation”.
  Referring the argument of Peter Berger and of Max Weber, Prof. Baubérot indicated that the process of sécularisation has been simply understood as the process of differentiating the religion from other social significations and activities. Although this understanding of sécularisation has been already criticized for assuming that religion will be inevitably vanished, Prof. Baubérot also criticized this conception of sécularisation itself for overlooking complexity of social and historical developments of religion.
  Based on the argument of Micheline Milot and of Karel Dobbelaere, Prof. Baubérot argued the conception of laïcisation should be introduced to understand these developments and the need to differentiate it from the traditional conception of sécularisation distinctly. Moreover, He defined laïcisation as the tangible process of politics’ keeping distance institutionally from religion in the general regulation of the society and also redefined sécularisation as the invisible process of declining religious influence over the whole society.
  If we can differentiate the both processes as Prof. Baubérot said, they can be also regarded as developing separately. He took the present situation of Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Iran, and the situation of Latin American countries in the nineteenth-century for example that the laïcisation, which the authoritarian government implemented without sécularisation, can’t compete against the opposition and objection made by its opponents. In addition, he indicated that the laïcisation in the society in which the sécularisation was highly developed such as contemporary France and Japan, has lost its appeal for the populace and was also exposed to challenge and criticism.
  At the time of discussion after Prof. Baubérot’s lecture, Dr. Kiyonobu Date (research fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) interpreted for us when the need arose. We made discussion on Prof. Baubérot’s view on the present situation of Turkey and Iran, and on the applicability of his argument to the present situation of Japan.

Reported by Satoshi KATSUNUMA

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