Postsecular Encounters in World Politics

Cerella, Antonio (2014) Postsecular Encounters in World Politics. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42 (3). pp. 957-965. ISSN 03058298

[thumbnail of Version of record] PDF (Version of record) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only


Official URL:


In a late interview, published after his death, one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, looking to the future with an eye to the past, condensed in one sentence the historical and spiritual condition of his age: Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten [only a God can save us]. With this seemingly simple phrase, Heidegger cast a counter-image as intense as the one launched by Nietzsche’s philosophical cry a century earlier. For, the ‘death of God’ and his invoked ‘resurrection’ metaphorically drew the philosophical and cultural boundaries of an age suspended between construction and deconstruction, nihilism and search for a nomos, being (Heidegger) and nothingness (Nietzsche). It is exactly within this intellectual landscape that the analyses of those who have sought to rethink the thorny relationship between religion and politics in the ‘age of disenchantment’ have found refuge. Once the great myths of the ‘accomplished secularization’ and of the ‘privatization of religion’ had faded, the so-called ‘resurgence of the sacred’ – especially in International Relations – revitalised some of the fundamental issues of our time. In particular, the complex debate on the relationship between secularisation and modernity, religion and conflict, democracy and inclusion has been reopened and reconsidered in the light of a new ‘postsecular awareness’. This recent theoretical direction has been indicated by Jürgen Habermas who has taken a conceptual step back and spoken of the necessity of ‘postsecular encounters’ between religious and secular understandings of being-in-the-world, of ‘a change of attitude in favour of a dialogical relationship, open to learning, with all religious traditions’.

It is around these themes and issues that the two works under review have been developed. They offer novel, alternative and illuminating insights on how to rethink the relationship between religion, world politics and global ethics within the new theoretical postsecular horizon. These books somehow represent the two faces of the same coin. Mavelli elaborates a genealogical deconstruction of the problematic relationship between Europe and Islam which, figuratively, opens the way to Barbato’s postsecular construction.

Repository Staff Only: item control page