The Culture–Power Syndrome within a
ORIENTAL STUDIES UNIVERSITY, NAPLES/HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY, BERLIN
This study articulates the leitmotif of civilizational analysis (the interaction of power and culture) with regard to the relation between religion and the state within the Islamic civilization or ‘Islamdom’. In a first step, it clarifies, by reference to Marshall Hodgson, the extent to which his view of Islamdom as a transcivilizational ecumene can fit into a comparative type of civilizational analysis. The comparative approach to civilizational analysis can be enriched by reevaluating the specific Islamic pattern of mild legitimization of power through culture, and by integrating into the analysis the resulting field of tension vis-à-vis Western power and its supporting normative paradigms.
In a second step, in order to better grasp the forms of power governing this field of tension, the article critically reconsiders Rémi Brague’s characterization of Western European civilization as the outcome of an expansive ‘Roman road’ that matched culture with power by investing into the charisma of corporate entities: first, the church, then the state. Against this double background, the study shows that the culture–power syndrome that is proper to Islamdom as a transcivilizational ecumene does not consecrate a separation of ‘religion’ from the body politic, but promotes the building of expansive patterns of connectedness.
■civilization ■ Islam ■ modernity ■ religion ■ state
Civilizational Analysis and the Question of Islam
Civilizational analysis employs the tools of comparative historical sociology in order to critique and complexify social theory. The study of Islam in this framework reflects a specific angle, which is given by Islam’s continual repositioning within wider civilizational processes and particularly within modernity (see various contributions in Arnason et al., 2006). By taking into account Islam’s specificity in ways that partly transcend a strictly comparative approach, key concepts of
99 European Journal of Social Theory 13(1)