This book analyses the development of different meanings of the term 'religion' in different contexts and in relation to other categories with shifting and unstable nuances such as the state, politics, economics, and the secular. It traces a major transformation of the category as a function of Euro-American colonialism and capitalism from its traditional meaning of Christian Truth to the modern generic and pluralised category of religions and world religions. Throughout the period under consideration discourses on religion have overlapped significantly with discourses on 'our' civility as opposed to 'their' barbarity, underpinning the superior rationality of the literate male elite of western societies.

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