The study of religion has been dominated by two approaches to religious change: the secularisation thesis, and the “lived religion” paradigm. They form a contradictory pair, one stressing decline, and the other stressing innovation. One stresses reason, the other stresses experience – yet both center on the individual as the “source” of religion. What would a post-humanist model of religion and society look like?
This question is at the core of Paul-Francois Tremlett’s new book, Towards a New Theory of Religion and Social Change: Sovereignties and Disruptions. Drawing from scholars including Deleuze and Guattari, Jane Bennett, and Bruno Latour, Tremlett argues for an approach to religious and social worlds that does not begin with immutable things like religion, class, society, or the self, but instead prioritises flux, dialectic, and transformation. This is a new model that rejects both the teleology of modernity and the heroic individual.