Religion & Race Workshop: Race and Secularism in America

October 26 and 27, 2012

Convened by Vincent Lloyd (Syracuse) and Jonathon Kahn (Vassar)


How do religious ideas, present or repressed, contribute to the social formation of race in the United States? How does the existence of racialized communities complicate the self-understanding of the United States as a secular (or Christian) nation? Discussions of religion in America once focused on secularization, the decline of religious participation. But with the evident resilience of religion in both public and private life, scholars have turned their attention to secularism, the ideology that excludes religious ideas and practices from public life. Even if secularization never happened, secularism thrives. But discussions of secularism have rarely been inflected by considerations of race, and discussions of race have rarely taken ambient secularism into account. Does racialization necessarily short-circuit the ideology of secularism, or is racialization in fact necessary to that ideology?


Workshop participants will pre-circulate abstracts of projects they are pursuing related to the workshop theme in August. Participants will meet in person to share their projects from October 26-27 at Syracuse University (with the participation of faculty and several undergraduate students from Vassar College). The conveners will organize the projects into four sessions of three presentations each, with plenty of time for discussion. The sessions will be open to the public, and will be publicized online and via a conference poster to be mailed in early September. We anticipate that the conference will result in an edited volume of essays.

Other Sponsors:

Race and Secularism in America is also sponsored by the Syracuse University Departments of

African American Studies
Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
Political Science
Women’s and Gender Studies