An Ethnography of Desecularization: A Pedagogical Structure of Baha'i Conversion in Modern Spain
Much research has been conducted on the processes of rationalization and modernization that form the bases of the so-called secularization thesis. The early proponents of that thesis —from Feuerbach to Durkheim— presume religion’s extinction or its secular transformation. Similar presumptions continue to inform the work of such contemporary social theorists as Jürgen Habermas and Anthony Giddens. Without denying the scope of secularization recent research into the understudied but increasingly familiar phenomenon of desecularization, is producing evidence indicative of a religious resurgence or, at least, of the importance the role of religion still plays in the everyday life of a great many individuals in Western societies. This paper discusses the processes of desecularization through which secular actors (atheists, agnostics and non-practicing Catholics) and religious actors convert to the Baha’i faith within the context of the religious marketplace in modern Spain. In order to achieve this, I do not analyze conversion as a ritualistic event; rather, I center my attention on the process of conversion through which individuals actively seek religious answers, leading them to eventually convert. This paper explores these conversions and analyzes the actors’ elective affinities in order to delineate a pedagogical structure of conversion.
Keywords: Secularization, Desecularization, Religious Conversion, Baha'i Faith
Ph.D. Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, Rice University