Is theology always political? Is the political always theological? This course will examine the view that theology has something to say about how ideas and practices are organized to support violence and social power. It will study thinkers who view theology as a political resource insofar as theology engages in ideology critique and discourse analysis. It will also examine the contention that theology is not so much resource as culprit, since genealogies of race unveil theology as 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 who argue that while racial designations are politically activated, it is actually theology that formed the colonialist moment. Themes throughout the course will address the relationship between God and power, secularism, violence, truth, sovereignty, free market capitalism, neoliberalism, philosophy of race, women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and environmental ethics. Some thinkers will contend that political power needs to be “redeemed,” while others will argue that it is theology, always already political, that needs redemption. Readings include works by Giorgio Agamben, St. Augustine, Karl Barth, Walter Benjamin, James Cone, William E. Connolly, Eusebius, Bonnie Honig, Willie James Jennings, Ernst Kantorowicz, Catherine Keller, Vincent Lloyd, Achille Mbembé, José Esteban Muñoz, Carl Schmitt, Ted Smith, Linn Marie Tonstad and Alexander Weheliye.
- Professor: Andrea C. White