2.3.8 Thinking About Tradition (Supplemental)

2014 Eid ul-Fitr Praying—Imam Ali Shrine—Najaf. Sonia Sevilla.

I have used the term “tradition” in my writings in two ways: first, as a theoretical location for raising questions about authority, time, language use, and embodiment; and second, as an empirical arrangement in which discursivity and materiality are connected through the minutiae of everyday living… (Critical Enquiry).
One of the most sophisticated theorizations of tradition is found in the works of Professor Talal Asad. In this supplemental reading material, he breaks down what he means by the term, its relation to different modes of reasoning, and its connection to empirically grounded reality, subjective human experience, and critique. Professor Asad ties his reflections on tradition in this article to recent political events in Egypt.


This is an advanced supplemental material: we recommend focusing on sections I and II only.


Read: Thinking About Tradition, Religion, and Politics in Egypt Today // Critical Enquiry

Guiding Questions:

  1. What does the author mean when he says that a tradition is embodied?
  2. What does he mean when he says tradition is discursive?
  3. What notion of the self do Islam and pre-modern Christianity share in common, according to the author?


Photo: “2014 Eid ul-Fitr Praying—Imam Ali Shrine—Najaf.” Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Sonia Sevilla. CC0 1.0 Universal.