Senior Research Fellow Slavica Jakelić
"What do you hope to accomplish this year as a Martin Marty Senior Fellow, and how does the MMC look as a place to do your work?"
During my fellowship tenure at the Martin Marty Center, I will be working on my book Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity (under contract with Ashgate). The central argument of the book is that religious pluralization is a condition of late modernity that does not only establish religious markets based on choice, but also sustains ascribed religious identities. There are millions of people around the globe who were born into their religious traditions rather than religiously born again. Their religion is ascribed to them, rather than chosen by them; it is experienced as fixed rather than changeable. I call these religions collectivistic religions, because they bind individuals to a historically particular moral community and are never just a matter of belief.
On the one hand, I consider collectivistic religions, most specifically, collectivistic Christianities, sociologically and historically, in a range of European contexts. On the other hand, I depart from the philosophical anthropology implied in the notions of ‘choice,’ ‘religious preference,’ and ‘religious markets,’ as I maintain that people approach religious plurality within certain qualitative constraints, among which are cultural contexts, historical narratives, and communal boundaries. Put succinctly, while the scholars of religion have long been asking why and how modern people choose their religion, I am asking why so many people feel as if they have no choice to make.
In addition to working on the book, I am hoping that the academic year at the Marty Center will be long enough for me to embark on my next project, which addresses the problem of moral consensus in a secular age. Contrary to the usual focus on the clashes between secularisms and religions, I am interested in the areas of consensus between religious and secular worldviews as well the philosophical, historical, political, and institutional conditions conducive for their coexistence.
The Martin Marty Center will provide an ideal environment for me: this is an interdisciplinary institute that brings together scholars concerned with the big questions about religion but also attentive to the relevance of such questions for public life. I very much look forward to the conversations and exchanges with other scholars at the center and hope to contribute to its intellectual community with my interdisciplinary background and scholarly interests.