Masking Hegemony: A Genealogy of Liberalism, Religion, and the Private Sphere

mhMasking Hegemony is a critical evaluation of the use of the public/private and religion/state binaries in liberal political thought from the Protestant Reformation to the present. The book demonstrates that liberalism’s public/private and religion/state binaries, designed to separate “religion” from the “state,” are about as sophisticated as talk about the “four humours” in the human body, and may in fact mask or make invisible the influence of dominant religious institutions on state policies. Following theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, each of which demonstrates that dominant ideologies and social norms can circulate indirectly and operate invisibly, Craig Martin argues that there is inevitably a circulation of power from the so-called “private sphere” to the “public sphere” in a liberal democracy, but that the public/private and church/state language prevents us from bringing that circulation of power into relief.

“Offers a refreshing change of pace as a piece of self-reflexive criticism that asks scholars to consider the ways in which categories like ‘liberalism,’‘religion,’ and ‘private’ develop and get used for particular ends.”—Merinda Simmons, Religion, 42/3, 2012

Masking Hegemony cuts across several disciplines and should appeal to a wide audience, including those studying religion, political philosophy, history, anthropology, and sociology. One audience, in particular, should read it: those who study and practice law. Perhaps no group would benefit more from arriving at a deeper understanding of the ways in which “separation of church and state” masks an underlying reality that is constituted and negotiated to serve certain interests.”—Cris Campbell, Geneaology of Religion blog

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