Disenchantment: European Origins & South Asian Consequences

While the universal applicability of European understandings of secularism can be debated, recent historical research establishes the origin of Max Weber’s account of the “disenchantment” of the world in earlier theological claims that, with the death of Christ on the cross, the oracles were silenced, miracles ceased, and the Gospel replaced the Mosaic law. Weber’s master narrative of modernization uncannily resembled Christian narratives of supersession, calling into question the very distinction between religion and the secular. I will trace the genealogy of these narratives and their application in India, where British Protestants attacked Hindu mythology, ritual, and law.

Robert Yelle is Chair of the Interfaculty Program in Religious Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich. He received a BA at Harvard, a JD at Berkeley, and a PhD in History of Religions at Chicago. Recipient of a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he is the author of, among other publications, The Disenchantment of Language (Oxford, 2013).

Rajeev Bhargava is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Monday, 9 January 2017
4.30 pm, CSDS Seminar Room