Series Four Volume 2

Review: Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion

Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion. By Hugh Urban. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021. 264 pages. $30.00 (paperback). ISBN: 978-0-226-74664-7.

Hugh Urban’s book Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion examines the meanings of “secrecy” in six “esoteric movements” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Engaging esoteric movements in the US and Europe, Urban analyzes the ways secrecy can be used to accomplish different individual, cultural, and structural aims. Urban argues that secrecy is not a part of religion, but central to its operations. If “secrecy” was ever conceptualized as a unitary term with a singular meaning, Urban’s analysis complicates these assumptions by offering what he describes as the model of “secrecy” as a “linchpin.” Secrecy is something that holds together several strategies for maintaining and proliferating power between subjects and within institutions and broader culture.

Read the full review.

Tagged , ,