Matthew Scherer (2016-2018)
Matthew Scherer is an Assistant Professor of Government and Politics in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He directs the undergraduate program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and teaches courses in ancient, modern, and contemporary political theory, as well as constitutional law. He has held appointments as a Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs; as a Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow for the study of early American politics in the departments of History and Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University; and as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in Political Science from the Johns Hopkins University, and his BA with majors in Physics and Political Science from Williams College.
Professor Scherer maintains research interests in modern and contemporary political theory; religion and politics; critical theory; secularism; rhetorical and literary theory; early American politics and political thought; constitutionalism; and theories of empire, globalization, and political economy. His research focuses on the intersection of religion and politics with emphases on the politics of modern secularism, and on political theologies. His first book, Beyond Church and State: Democracy, Secularism, and Conversion (Cambridge, 2013), challenges common understandings of secularism as the separation of church and state, and articulates a new theory of secularism as the constant transformation of religious and political life — a process akin to religious conversion. In figuring secularism as a process of conversion, Beyond Church and State suggests new approaches to the deep entanglement of religion and politics in contemporary public life.
Professor Scherer’s current research follows two main tracks: one examines the emergence of American secularism in colonial and revolutionary periods, and the other focuses on the global production of “secularism” and “religion” in political modernity. The working title of his current book-length project is Modern Exceptions. See full bio and cv.