Beyond the sigh of the oppressed creature: A critical geographical enquiry into Christianity's contributions to war and peace
Boyle, Mark (2010) Beyond the sigh of the oppressed creature: A critical geographical enquiry into Christianity's contributions to war and peace. Annals of the Association of American Geographers , 100 (3). pp. 678-694. ISSN 0004-5608
At a time when sectarian tension is being viewed as a threat to global peace and religions are being called on to promote ecumenical dialogue and condemn militant fundamentalism, this article offers a critical geographical enquiry into the role of Christianity in the making of a peaceableWest. Christianity’s historical alignment with theWestern project and imbrication in histories of colonialism and imperialism raises questions about its capacity to serve as a progressive force in global affairs today. Placing Christianity under postcolonial scrutiny, this article argues that Christianity offers a variety of complex, contradictory, and competing approaches to peace building that variously defend the hegemonic ambitions of the West on the one hand and support critical practices that usurp and decenter the sovereign supremacy assumed by the West on the other. Critical geographical enquiry can offer Christianity a heightened self-understanding of the role of location, space, and place, in the framing, enactment, and impacts of its different colonial and postcolonial visions. Using the case of the Roman Catholic Church for illustration, the concepts of “milieux of translation,” referring to the social, economic, political, and cultural prisms through which theology becomes refracted into praxes, and “formations of the secular,” referring to the conditions in secular democracies that permit religions prescribed access to the public realm, are advanced as key to any understanding of the situated production and mobilization of Christianity’s strategies for peace. Future dialogue between Christianity and (institutional) geography might usefully begin with an exchange of ideas on how the wider project of historicizing, relativizing, and provincializing the West might best contribute to improved interfaith, intercultural, and intercivilizational dialogue.
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