Category Archives: Past Events

“Can We be Done with Original Sin: Political Theology, Legal Interpretation, and the Decision” Prof Paul Kahn (March 19, 2018)

March 19, 2018

“Can We be Done with Original Sin: Political Theology, Legal Interpretation, and the Decision”

Prof Paul Kahn (Yale University)
12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 318, Jackman Humanities Building

 

RSVP Required: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

In Political Theology, Carl Schmitt wrote, “Every political idea in one way or another takes a position on the ‘nature’ of man and presupposes that he is either ‘by nature good’ or ‘by nature evil.'” Liberal political theory rejects the assertion that there is such a need “to take a position.” There is no need for a metaphysical predicate, because people are good enough to agree on reasonable terms by which to live together politically. In this talk, I recover a meaning for Schmitt’s line. and thereby demonstrate the continuing need for political theology. Schmitt had hold of the important idea that in law the most important decision precedes, rather than follows, interpretation. Decision is the condition of interpretation, not because morality precedes politics, but because every interpretation must take a position on the relationship of freedom to order. We must decide whether law is project or system, whether the sovereign is transcendent or immanent. A transcendent popular sovereign takes up law as a project; animmanent popular sovereign expresses law as system.

Paul Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of the Orville H. Schell. Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. Kahn works in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory and philosophy and is the author of numerous books, including Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Columbia. 2011) and Making the Case: The Art of the Judicial Opinion (Yale, 2016).

 

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UT Study of Religion

 

 

 

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“Merely Political or Meaningfully Religious? Indigenous Protest Rituals and Their Legal Afterlives” Prof Greg Johnson (February 7, 2018)

February 7, 2018

“Merely Political or Meaningfully Religious? Indigenous Protest Rituals and Their Legal Afterlives”

Prof Greg Johnson (University of Colorado)
12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

 

RSVP Required: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

Standing near the summit of Mauna Kea, two stone ahu (altars) are sites of contemporary Native Hawaiian religious vitality.  The State of Hawai`i, however, has a problem with the ahu.  Specifically, they sit on the proposed site of a $1.4 billion dollar telescope project and were ritually constructed in the course of protest actions against the project in 2015.  The State has deemed the altars “merely political” and therefore not deserving of consultative consideration or protection.  Now, as part of their ongoing effort to protect the mountain, some Hawaiian petitioners are challenging the State in the Supreme Court, insisting that the altars are manifestations of a long-held tradition.

Johnson will address this dispute, including his role as a witness in it, asking: What can be learned from cases wherein modern conceptions of jurisdiction and static notions of religion conflict with place-based forms of religious expression, especially those that emerge in protest settings?  Johnson will sketch several comparative examples of such impasses, including the role of prophecy at Standing Rock.  His presentation will conclude with an invitation to the audience to think about implications of such cases for Canadian contexts.

Greg Johnson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Interim Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Colorado.  Johnson’s work focuses on the intersection of Indigenous traditions and law, with attention to repatriation, burial protections, and sacred land claims in Hawai`i and American Indian contexts.  He is co-editor of the Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s) (Brill, 2017).

 

In collaboration with:

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UT Study of Religion

 

 

 

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“Finding Religion: Assessing Religion-Based Asylum Claims” Dr Helge Årsheim (November 1, 2017)

November 1, 2017

“Finding Religion: Assessing Religion-Based Asylum Claims”

Dr Helge Årsheim (University of Oslo)
2:30pm to 4:00pm, Room 2010, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

Asylum seekers around the world frequently base their claims for protection on religious conversion leading to persecution.  This raises a number of difficult issues, including how courts and tribunals understand religious conversion, how they assess available country of origin information, review the contents of religious convictions, and distinguish between sincere and insincere conversions.  More generally, it raises the issue of the relationship between freedom of religion or belief in international law and religious persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention.  
This talk provides an overview of these issues, drawing on a case study of 70 appellate court cases on asylum claimants alleging religious conversion in Norway and Canada between 2010 and 2015.

Helge Årsheim is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at The University of Oslo. His research explores the ways in which religion travels across different levels of governance in international and domestic legislation and jurisprudence. His first book, Making Religion at the United Nations, will be published by DeGruyter in 2018.

 

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UT Study of Religion

 

 

 

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“Institutional or Individual: What is Religious Freedom in the United States Today?” Prof Leslie C. Griffin (March 8, 2017)

March 8, 2017

“Institutional or Individual: What is Religious Freedom in the United States Today?”

Professor Leslie C. Griffin (UNLV)
12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

This paper will argue that the U.S. government has usually interpreted religious freedom to protect institutions and frequently ignored the interests of religious individuals. Interpreting the Free Exercise Clause to protect religious institutions’ rights against their members ignores the experience of the earliest Americans. Allowing the courts to enforce a rule that automatically favors religious institutions over their members is at odds with the early history of liberty of conscience.

This talk will look at two examples of the courts privileging institutions over individuals. First, the ministerial exception allows church employees’ claims against their employers to be dismissed without lawsuit. Second, RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) permits religious employers to deny full health insurance coverage to their employees.  The talk then explores the alternative, individual approach to law and religion, which the courts should favor in the future.

Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. She
holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. The fourth edition of her textbook, Law and Religion: Cases and Material, was published recently by Foundation Press. It is described at http://www.griffinlawandreligion.com/.

 

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“Buddhism, Constitutionalism and the Limits of Law” – Dr. Ben Schonthal (October 5, 2016)

Nov2
October 5, 2016

“Buddhism, Constitutionalism and the Limits of Law”

Dr. Benjamin Schonthal (University of Otago)
12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

Like approximately half of the world’s basic laws, Sri Lanka’s constitution gives preferential status to the country’s majority religion, Buddhism. While this arrangement seems to place public law in the service of Buddhism, what have been the actual, legal effects on the lives of individual Buddhists? This talk considers this question and uses Sri Lanka as a case study for thinking more broadly about the nature and effects of religious supremacy clauses ins200_ben.schonthal constitutions around the world.

Ben Schonthal is Senior Lecturer in Buddhism and Asian Religions at the University of Otago, in New Zealand. He teaches and writes about the intersections of religion, law and politics in South and Southeast Asia. His first book, Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law will appear with Cambridge University Press in October 2016.

Read the talk here:

Schonthal LRST Talk

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UT Study of Religion

“The Everyday Life of Religious Difference: Governing Religion in Quebec” – Prof. Amélie Barras (November 2, 2015)

Nov2bNovember 2, 2015

“The Everyday Life of Religious Difference: Governing Religion in Quebec” Prof. Amélie Barras (York University)
12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.bit.ly/osresearch, Event Code: LRST12

In 2007 during a public audience of the Bouchard-Taylor commission, Gerard Bouchard, one of the commissioners, asked a Moroccan association, whether and how frequently they asked for religious accommodations. His question is a good illustration of how religious minorities, and in particular Muslims, in and outside Quebec, are increasingly imagined as making requests for religious accommodations. 

What is the impact of this discourse of request on how we think about religion and religious pluralism? This talk discusses how this discourse carries expectations regarding the forms Islam takes in Canada, as well as how Muslims should act and perform their faith. Focusing on photo_amelie2Quebec, it explores to what extent this discourse reflects and influences the everyday experience of devout Muslims. Ultimately, the talk argues that this discourse overlooks the complexity of how they work out, with themselves and with others, their religious practices and commitments.

Amélie Barras is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University.
Her research considers the relationship between politics, religion, gender and law in and beyond Canada. She is the author of Refashioning Secularisms in France and Turkey: The Case of the Headscarf Ban (Routledge, 2014).

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UT Study of Religion

 

 

 

 

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“The Sexual Politics of Religious Freedom: Protest and Secularism in the Age of AIDS” – Prof. Anthony Petro (October 14, 2015)

Oct14RGBOctober 14, 2015

“The Sexual Politics of Religious Freedom: Protest and Secularism in the Age of AIDS” Prof. Anthony Petro (Boston University)

12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.bit.ly/osresearch, Event Code: LRST11

In December of 1989, several thousand AIDS activists staged a protest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of New York. The protestors demanded that Catholic leaders end their political opposition to AIDS education, measures to prevent antigay discrimination, and women’s rights to free and safe abortions. Critics quickly condemned the demonstration for crossing the lines of peaceful protest and even for being sacrilegious. This talk draws upon the 1989 protest as a case study in the history of the culture wars, in particular the battles over religious and sexual freedom that continue to animate political debate in the United States today. Tracing arguments of AIDS activists and Catholic leaders, this talk demonstrates how both sides drew upon secular claims for religious freedom while simultaneously pushing against the limits of these very arguments by blurring the line between religion and politics.
Petro
Anthony M. Petro
is Assistant Professor of Religion at Boston University. He writes and teaches on the history of religion in the United States, the religious politics of medicine and public health, and gender and sexuality studies. He is the author of After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford, 2015)

 

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“The Tempting of Europe: a Schmittian Reading of Christianity and Islam in European Constitutionalism” – Prof. Susanna Mancini (March 13, 2015)

ManciniMarch 13, 2015

“The Tempting of Europe: a Schmittian Reading of Christianity and Islam in European Constitutionalism” Prof. Susanna Mancini (Università di Bologna)

12:00pm to 1:30pm

Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 318, 170 St. George Street

This talk examines legal and political responses to the growing presence of Islam in the European public sphere through the lens of Carl Schmitt’s thought. It will point out how such responses draw on an essentialist and idealized notion of the people, and aim at artificially reinforcing the culturally and religiously homogeneous character of the European public sphere, thus pursuing an ‘identitarian’ model of democracy.  The talk then turns to the political use of Christianity to define and sustain European identity, to conclude that the role attributed to the ‘Christian roots’ of Europe in contemporary discourses is analogous to the role that Schmitt ascribed to the Catholic Church in representing the values which were the essence of European civilization and separated it from ‘uncivilized’ others.

Susanna Mancini is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Bologna,mancini 62499C-24 where she teaches comparative constitutionalism.  She is also a visiting professor at the Fordham School of Law and an adjunct professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.  She has written extensively on comparative constitutional issues, exploring questions of constitutional symbolism, gender and the law, self-determination, and secularism.  Her most recent co-edited collection is entitled Constitutional Secularism in an Age of Religious Revival (Oxford, 2014).

This talk is presented in association with the Religion in the Public Sphere Initiative, at the University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion.

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UT Study of Religion

“Religion, Vaccines, and Violence: Anxiety about the End of ‘The World'” – Prof. Paul Bramadat (January 22, 2015)

BramadatJanuary 22, 2015

“Religion, Vaccines, and Violence: Anxiety about the End of ‘The World'” Prof. Paul Bramadat (University of Victoria)

12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.bit.ly/osresearch, Event Code: LRST9

What happens when our institutions, practices, laws, and norms are challenged by individuals and groups attached to potentially irreconcilable accounts of the world?  Two recent research projects – one examining religious and cultural reasons for vaccine hesitancy, and the other exploring religious radicalization and securitization – demonstrate how we do — and how we might — respond to situations in which dominant and minority accounts of reality clash and in which these conflicts have tangible consequences.  Our approaches to such moments reveal a great deal not just about the modern self and society, but also prevailing approaches to religious or extra-secular claims and communities.

Paul Bramadat - "Religion, Vaccines, and Violence" (January 2015)

Paul Bramadat – “Religion, Vaccines, and Violence” (January 2015)

Paul Bramadat is Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and holds teaching appointments in the Department of History and the Religious Studies Program at the University of Victoria. His current research focuses on the intersections between secularism, religious radicalization, securitization, post-colonialism, and religious identity in contemporary Canada. Author and editor of numerous books, his most recent co-edited collection was entitled Religious Radicalization and Securitization in Canada and Beyond (Toronto, 2014).

 

 

 

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“Bad Jews and Soft Crimes: Dispatches from the Construction of Masculinity” – Prof. Sarah Imhoff (October 15, 2014)

Imhoff1October 15, 2014

“Bad Jews and Soft Crimes: Dispatches from the Construction of Masculinity”

Prof. Sarah Imhoff (Indiana University)

12:30pm to 2:00pm, Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School

RSVP Required: www.bit.ly/osresearch, Event Code: LRST8

How do cultural assumptions about religion and gender interact with criminality? In their historical attempts to understand crime, biological and racial theories have smuggled in implicit notions of gender. Similarly, ideas about religion—or its absence—made their way into both legal and media conversations about crime. Because Jewishness has historically lay at the nexus of race and religion, this talk will explore historical moments when Jewish men stood accused of high-profile crimes. Jews and non-Jews, scientists and attorneys, clergy and laymen all weighed in. While their disagreements were often predictable, these diverse cultural voices nevertheless had one area of remarkable agreement: the characteristics of Jewish masculinity. This talk will explore what happens when conceits about a gentle Jewish manhood collide with the facts of crimes, and what that tells us about the power and endurance of images of gender, religion, and crime in the cultural imaginary.Imhoff-sarah_lg

Sarah Imhoff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University.  She writes on gender and American Judaism, the role of the body and medical discourse in Jewish identity, and the history of the field of Religious Studies, especially in its relation to US law.  She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism, to be published with New York University Press.

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