Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Issues with Authority: Feminist Commitments in a Late Secular Age -- David Kyuman Kim

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Kim Koo Library

David Kyuman Kim (Connecticut College and the Social Science Research Council) will present his paper "Issues with Authority: Feminist Commitments in a Late Secular Age." 

Professor Kim’s paper focuses primarily on the discourse of feminism, secularism, and authority in the context of the overwhelming dominance of political liberalism in contemporary political theory. The paper considers, among other things, the following question: how does a feminism that is not reflexively "secularist" but is constituted by and through religious traditions and practices begin to rethink the experience and understanding of religious, cultural, and political authority? What standing does "authority” have for contemporary feminism and feminist theory? Taking into account saturated symbols such as the hijab and the burka, as well as the appointment of women to positions of religious authority (e.g, bishops, clergy, and public representatives of traditions) as clear sociological examples of change, it would seem that a different kind of public engagement is taking place in regard to the nexus of religion, secularism, gender, and democracy, on the one hand, and religious, cultural, and political authority, on the other.

About the Author: David Kyuman Kim joined the faculty of Connecticut College in 2003. He has also taught at Harvard University and Brown University, most recently in 2009 as inaugural Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the Cogut Center for the Humanities. He has written on freedom and agency in modernity and post-modernity, Asian American diasporas, and the Asian American religious experience. Oxford University Press published his first book Melancholic Freedom: Agency and the Spirit of Politics. His current book project is The Public Life of Love, an examination of the status of love in politics, public life, religion, and the arts. He is co-editor, with Philip Gorski, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen of the forthcoming collection The Post-Secular in Question (New York University Press). With John L. Jackson, Jr., Kim is co-editing a special issue on race, religion, and democracy for The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Kim is also co-editor, with John L. Jackson, Jr. and Rudy V. Busto, of the new Stanford University Press book series RaceReligion.


Location:  Kim Koo Library, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street

Please RSVP to Nathaniel Berman (nathaniel_berman@brown.edu) for a copy of the paper.