Jan van Heemst

Reader 2017


Jan van Heemst, here featuring on a student’s t-shirt, is Senior Research Lecturer at the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. He completed his PhD in the Humanities, University of Amsterdam. His research centres on Cultural Analysis. What drives him in particular is an analytical interest in the resilience of cultural belongings in our plainly not so post-identitarian twenty-first century world. He is presently addressing the most hotly debated issues of cultural belongings in an exploration of historical configurations and actual representations that make for what appear to be collective commitments to often highly contested causes like class, race, nationality, nativity, ethnicity, gender, or, for that matter, religion. Findings will be set forth in a critical manual for advanced BA-students. They will offer major cases for ‘teachable moments’ in higher vocational and/or academic education, i.e. issues that are indisputable relevant for next decade curricula, as they appertain to sensitive topics such as migration, diaspora, tolerance, selfhood, rights, agency, and diversity. Recently Jan van Heemst published a concise History of European Culture (Dutch, Rotterdam, Ad. Donker Publishers, 2012).


Secularism Matters

Abstract — Everywhere in the European Union, we are experiencing public manifestations of socio-religious practices of Islamic monotheism. In blurring the delicate line between the logic of private and the logic of public, socio-religious practices of European Muslims testify to the post-secular turn in view of a revival of the debate on the relationship between religion and politics. In this article, I take the position that critically understanding the post-secular turn in public manifestations of Islamic monotheism requires redefining secularism. Only a robust notion of non-cultural secularism will provide insight into the intricate relationship between socio-religious practices of European Muslims and politics. To grasp these intricacies, I will illustrate that, for a sociological majority of nation-state populists, being European boils down to Europe’s Judeo-Christian roots. I highlight the importance of the notion of non-cultural secularism in a culturally plural society, that accords with the fundamental rights and other constitutional commitments of liberal democracy, by contrasting cultural and democratic legitimizations of the nation-state. Cultural legitimization is almost generally accorded a positive valence across the political spectrum in a wide repertoire of populist phraseology: to integrate into the nation-state coincides with being bound to integrate into mainstream culture by paying tribute to the cultured consensus of the dominant ethnie. Whereas references to Judeo-Christian roots deny European Muslims the legal space to deploy their socio-religious practices, it is on the basis of non-cultural secularism that eventually both supporters and despisers of socio-religious practices are to be tolerated within the bounds of liberal democracies.

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