Early postcolonial critics were at worst ambivalent about secularism, and more likely either uninterested or, like Edward Said, extremely enthusiastic. What is the meaning of the recent turn against secularism by critics in and around the field Said did so much to establish? This essay weighs both Said’s militant commitment, finding it more complex than it appears, and the critiques of Said and secularism by such figures as Talal Asad and Gil Anidjar. Accusing the latter thinkers of a religious essentialism on the embarrassing model of Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations, the essay answers its title question with a resounding “no,” proposes a withdrawal from the easy identification of secularism, modernity, and the state, and ends with a counsel of disciplinary modesty.

You do not currently have access to this content.