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The Euro-Islamic Roots of Secularity: A Difficult Equation

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This article probes into the issue of secularity as a main node of the historic construction of modern power and the modern state in Europe. It builds an interpretative arch ranging from the Spanish Reconquista, stretching through the European Wars of Religion and the resistance to the "Turkish Threat" of the encroaching Ottoman armies, and reaching into the contemporary predicament of the presence of a growing population of Muslim background in the key states of Western Europe, notably those involved in the Reconquista, the resistance to the "Turkish Threat", and in the Wars of Religion. The analysis matches the interpretation of these historical traumata with philosophical and sociological reflections, from Spinoza and Vico to Asad and Casanova. The conclusions point to the inherent ambivalence and arbitrary character of the modern secular distinction between religion and politics. They suggest that the philosophical utopia of secularity is still an open issue for the European states and that the growing presence of Islam in Europe helps give evidence of the limits of the secular arrangements reigning in the continent thus far.


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