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In Secularism as Misdirection, Nivedita Menon traces how the discourse of secularism fixes attention to and hyper-visualizes women and religion while obscuring other related issues. Showing how secularism is often invoked to serve capital and antiminority politics, Menon exposes it as a strategy of governance that is compatible with both democracy and authoritarianism, capitalism and socialism. Secularism also delegitimizes the nonindividuated nonrational self, Menon argues, and exploring this aspect, tracks the journey of psychoanalysis in the global South. Menon further examines the interconnectedness of religion, caste, the state, and women, showing how the discourse of secularism can also be mobilized by Hindu supremacist politics in India. Menon puts Latin American decolonial theorists in conversation with Asian and African thinkers to examine twenty-first-century global reimaginings of selfhood, constitutionalism, citizenship, and anticapitalist existence. Through a feminist and global perspective, Menon suggests that transformative politics is better imagined by stepping out of the frame offered by secularism and focusing on substantive values such as democracy, social justice, and ecological justice.
About the Author
Nivedita Menon is Professor of Comparative Politics and Political Theory at Jawaharlal Nehru University and author of Seeing Like a Feminist and Recovering Subversion: Feminist Politics beyond the Law.