Religion, Moral Hegemony and Local Cartographies of Power: Feminist Reflections on Religion in Local Politics

Dhaliwal, Sukhwant. 2011. Religion, Moral Hegemony and Local Cartographies of Power: Feminist Reflections on Religion in Local Politics. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Abstract or Description

This is a comparative feminist analysis of religion in local politics within two London boroughs: Ealing and Newham. Starting from the observation that there has been a de-secularisation of relations between the state and civil society in Britain, it draws upon the feminist and anti racist critique of multiculturalism to produce new reflections on the shift to multifaithism. This thesis argues that the shift is the result of a double movement - from above and from below - and enables moral hegemony. By re-orienting an analysis of the religious-secular to local cartographies of power, this thesis makes smaller claims that run alongside and pose questions for a growing consensus within feminist theory that seeks a distance from secularism, that emphasises solidarities with faith based mobilisations and seeks to uncritically defend religious minority claims. The data comprises 47 in depth interviews with 'secular', 'religious' and 'state' actors. This is supplemented with ethnographic observations from public meetings, religious processions and other events. The empirical analysis discusses the following key themes: the way in which religion is welded to electoral politics; religious commitment as an ontological, aesthetic and affective source for social responsibility and political engagement; the shared pastoral-policing functions of religious organisations and the state; the emergence of religious 'election' as a new way of re-ordering local areas and access to welfare services; the negotiation of a new wave of Muslim political identifications in the context of the War on Terror; the perpetuation of a unanimist Khalsa norm and its implications for making religious claims; and a closer consideration of religious groups in alliance, the darker side of faith as social capital.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


religion, secular, secularism, fundamentalism, politics, feminism, local, community, communitarianism, multiculturalism, multifaithism, anti-racism, social capital

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Date Deposited:

25 Mar 2013 12:55

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:34


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