Is theology always political? Is the political always theological? This course will examine the view that theology has something to say about the way in which ideas and practices are organized for the structures of social power. It will study thinkers who view theology as a resource for the political insofar as theology engages in the enterprise of ideology critique and discourse analysis. It will also examine the contention that theology is not so much resource as culprit, since genealogies of race demonstrate that theology is the origin of empire building, colonialism and imperialism. Readings will include works by theologians who analyze the use of the body for the sake of the state and argue that while racial designations are politically activated (M. Shawn Copeland, Kelly Brown Douglas), it is actually theology that formed the colonialist moment (Jennings, Carter). Themes throughout the course will address the relationship between God and power, the question of how religious ideas and practices shape politics, secularism as a religious category, the fragility of politics, the notion that political power needs to be“redeemed” (Ricoeur), and the antagonistic relation between truth and politics (Arendt). Other thinkers will argue that it is theology, always already political, that needs to be redeemed.
- Professor: Andrea C. White