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).
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.
religion; Roman Catholicism; secular politics;
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