Thursday, March 21, 2013
I’m in the middle of completing a funding application for an Irish Research Council (IRC) post-doctoral research fellowship (2 years), based at the Belfast campus of Trinity College Dublin’s Irish School of Ecumemics. The project brings back together a more philosophical study of the suspension and potentiality of being of my research interests (which I focused on here for this - unsuccessful - PhD in Philosophy application) with the empirical study of the emerging church practice of identity suspension in ‘suspended space’ to examine their potential to affect socio-political transformation.
If successful in my application, the project would be mentored by Gladys Ganiel, Assistant Professor in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, and Ireland’s foremost expert on the emerging church.
The project is entitled, ‘Saint Paul, the Emerging Church, and the Politics of Identity Suspension: Exploring New Religious Approaches to Socio-Political Transformation’, and here’s some of the proposal I’ve been putting together:
Contemporary philosophical interpretations of Saint Paul argue against identity politics and standpoint epistemologies in favour of a generic humanity or universal humanism. For philosophers such as Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek, identity politics fragments humanity into special interest groups competing for recognition within the existing social system, thereby weakening possibilities for political resistance and collective action. Elements of the ‘emerging church’ – a diverse, transnational milieu exploring Christian belief, faith and life in conversation with both inherited traditions and contemporary cultures – seek to embody insights from philosophers like Badiou and Žižek in their lived, everyday practices.
This is the first project to ask how elements within a small but burgeoning religious movement are gathering around the religious turn in radical political thought and what its implications might be for the relationship between religion, identity, and socio-political transformation.
Bringing recent scholarship on Paul together with a focused, ethnographic study of Ikon, Belfast, and Ikon, New York City (NYC), this approach is in contrast to much of the current literature on emerging Christianity, which portrays it as the contextualisation of church structures and mission forms, thereby domesticating the radicality of the emerging theologies and practices that are the focus of my research. Instead, I argue that radical collectives within this milieu should be more properly understood as forming part of a wider political movement.