This book investigates the origins of fundamentalism, outlining its characteristics and the history of key fundamentalist movements around the world, considering examples from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. The book argues that fundamentalism develops when modern lay religious leaders challenge the authority of secular states and traditional religious establishments. These new leaders and their followers seek to infuse religious values and practices into all spheres, especially law, politics, education and science. The patterns of religious authority and leadership that characterize fundamentalism have their roots in a Christian context but were globalized through intense intercultural contacts after the mid-nineteenth century. Fundamentalism is a thoroughly modern and global phenomenon because it presupposes the globalization of ideas and practices concerning religious leadership and organization, as well as universal changes in the relationship of religion to modern societies and states.
Torkel Brekke is a Professor of the History of Religions and South Asian Studies at the University of Oslo. Before being appointed to his current position, he completed his DPhil at Oxford and served as advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Defence. Besides his university position he works for the think tank Civita. He has written and edited several books, including Makers of Modern Indian Religion and The Ethics of War in Asian Civilizations, and his articles have appeared in numerous journals.
Introduction; Part I. The Historical and Ideological Context of Fundamentalism: 1. Religion and modernity in the West; 2. Religion and globalization; 3. A global shift in religious authority; 4. Prophecy and preaching; Part II. Fundamentalist Struggles: 5. The struggle for the state; 6. The struggle over law; 7. The struggle for the sciences; 8. The struggle over education; 9. The struggle over women; Conclusion.