1. What are your reasons for including these top three “key” texts for the field of political theology?
As I don’t invest in a “canon,” I can only presume that others name Carl Schmitt, so I need not open my list with a Nazi; that in this millennium it was Giorgio Agamben’s The Time that Remains, with its ruminations on Paul, Schmitt, and Benjamin; Kelly Brown Douglas’ Stand Your Ground, with its historiography of white exceptionalism; and Michael Northcott’s Political Theology of Climate Change, that launched my specific project, written to be helpful to students, indeed to a network like this one (Political Theology of the Earth: Our Planetary Emergency and the Struggle for a New Public).
2. In two to three sentences, how would you define and/or describe the field of political theology?
Political theology makes explicit the political history, conflict and potentiality implicit in all theology. By default or intention, for liberation or for domination, theology in the Abrahamic traditions delivers a social ethic for its polis. The political signifies the struggle for a collective good. As a discourse, political theology curates not only the political within theology, but the theology within politics.
3. In what way does it make sense to talk about a “canon” of Political Theology when (a) the field’s definition remains open and contested, (b) the field is open to being changed and challenged in the future, (c) the very establishment of a “canon” depends on various power structures (e.g. who decides what is canonical? Whose interests does the canon serve? etc.) and (d) the ‘discipline’ of Political Theology prides itself in its inter-, cross-, and anti-disciplinary methods?
If one speaks of Political Theology as a “field” with its own “canon” one must surely be preparing to deconstruct it. The sovereign boundaries of an academic decisionism have already been set. If one speaks rather of an interdisciplinary discourse with a growing archive, the “field” appears instead as a shifting forcefield, attractive precisely for its capacity to cross the boundaries of academic specializations and indeed the wall of separation between theological and secular scholarship. But then, most importantly, political theology works its way beyond its disciplines into their world: it mindfully transgresses the thought/world wall, it moves transdisciplinarily, not to shore up its exceptional discourse but to strengthen the intersectional ethics. Then it will be testing its methods for their materializations in the convergent politics of its moment, as right now: race, immigration, sexuality, class, and ecology.
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