While Carl Schmitt claims that the enemy constitutes “the political,” his various writings largely ignore the historical and discursive evolution of the enemy. Anidjar’s major contribution to modern political theology lies in responding to this lacuna.
In the academic setting of Religious Studies, developing curricular spaces in which to thematize the relationship of religion and politics is a highly effective way both to engage undergraduate students, and to tap into and develop the research interests of graduate students. Over the past several years, I have developed courses at both levels in this area.
The election of Matteo Renzi represents a low point in the fortunes of political Catholicism in democratic Italy, as engaged Catholics across the political spectrum have less influence over the national government than at probably any point since World War II. This decline in fortunes illustrates the weaknesses of mainstream Catholic political strategies in the post-Cold War era. A cross-country comparison of Italy and the U.S. can help illustrate how the struggles of political Catholicism in the early twenty-first century reflect certain weaknesses in the Catholic Church’s current understanding of its social mission.
This may seem an odd pairing – Secularism and Political Theology – but in a way that I can’t quite articulate, they still seem to go well together, beyond being two important recent topics that weren’t yet covered by the course offerings in my department.