Basit Kareem Iqbal is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at McMaster University. His research focuses on displacement, refuge, and hospitality, which he approaches not just as objects of anthropological critique but as problems for and of philosophical ethics and political theology. His current book project, based on fieldwork with refugees, relief workers, and religious scholars, is titled “The Dread Heights: Tribulation and Refuge after the Syrian Revolution.”
Against that paradigm of crisis–critique–historical consciousness, in which phenomena need to be given a proper categorical frame of reference to achieve the fullness of their historical meaning, this essay turns to the theological figure of “tribulation” in order to animate another tradition of thinking the difficulty of the present.
Rather than establishing structural analogies or historical filiations between “religion” and “politics” (terms he opens to question), Talal Asad urges attention to shifts in the grammar of concepts across different situations.