Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging (RelSec)

An Initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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Poo Mu-chou, Director of Center for the Comparative Study of Antiquity (CUHK) at the 2015 RelSec workshop in Hong Kong
The RelSec project linked the following CHCI member organizations:

The project centered on mutually coordinated research projects that investigated how religious and secular formations organized the practices of political belonging across the globe. In the three years of the project, the participating CHCI organizations have convened research teams to conduct investigations anchored to each site along these thematic lines. They have also met for symposia and workshop meetings at CHCI annual meetings and at each participating site. As the project progressed, the project partners shared their foundational readings and ideas with each other and the CHCI membership on the RelSec website at

Under the leadership of Lee Medovoi at the University of Arizona (UA), the international project team sought “to perform collaborative research in the Global Humanities that neither seeks to dissolve difference so as to make facile universalist claims, nor settles for a narrowly comparative framework that cannot grasp the traveling forces shaping contemporary culture and politics across all our sites.”

The Minerva Humanities Center hosted the June 2015 RelSec workshop
The culminating meeting of the collaboration took place as originally planned at Tel Aviv University in June 2015. At this meeting, project partners posted online white papers that served as opportunities to reflect and trace the itinerary of each team’s intellectual process, including what it learned from engaging with its international partners.