Category Archives: 2021-2022

“Neutralizing Secularism: Religious Liberty and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” – Prof. Rabiat Akande (January 26, 2022)

January 26, 2022

“Neutralizing Secularism: Religious Liberty and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

Professor Rabiat Akande
Via Zoom


Contestations pitting the notions of secularism and religious freedom against each other are ubiquitous in the contemporary world. This tension was, in fact, integral to the making of the modern notion of religious liberty in the aftermath of the Second World War. Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the paradigmatic legal encapsulation of the modern notion of religious liberty, was the product of an impassioned contestation between a Protestant ecumenical movement keen on securing the prerogative to spread the gospel to the “non-Christian world” on the one hand, and, on the other, a secularism in a peculiar alliance with the colonial state in Muslim Africa, an area of the world that held immense attraction for the global missionary enterprise. Through the lens of struggles between global protestant missionaries, transnational Muslim elites, and imperial administrators, this talk offers an alternative history of the modern notion of religious liberty, intervening in debates over the history of human rights and its place in the genealogy of religious liberty and secularism.

Rabiat Akande
 is an Assistant Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. She works in the fields of legal history, law and religion, Islamic law and (Post)Colonial African law and society. Her forthcoming book is Constitutional Entanglements: Empire, Law and Religion in British Northern Nigeria (Cambridge University Press). 

The LRST is supported through the funds of the York Research Chair in Pluralism and Public Law

“Jews, Justice, and U.S. Indian Law” – Prof. David S. Koffman (December 3, 2021)

December 3, 2021

“Jews, Justice, and U.S. Indian Law”

Professor David S. Koffman
Via Zoom


This talk analyzes the work of a cadre of American Jewish lawyers, civil servants and intellectual New Dealers who turned centuries-long anti-Indian policy on its head and created the most progressive pro-Native policy the U.S. had ever known. Drawing from extensive, original archival research, the talk situates the work of this generally unknown chapter of modern Jewish advocacy in the twin contexts of American religious minorities’ commitment to liberalism on the one hand, and the ongoing realities and impacts of colonialism on the other.

David S. Koffman is the J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry in the Department of History at York University. He is the author of The Jews’ Indian: Colonialism, Pluralism, and Belonging in America (Rutgers University Press, 2019), and the editor of No Better Home? Jews, Canada, and the Sense of Belonging (University of Toronto Press, 2021). He serves as the associate director of York’s Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, and the editor-in-chief of the journal Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes.

The LRST is supported through the funds of the York Research Chair in Pluralism and Public Law

Watch the lecture:

“Unmasking the Hypocrisy of the Niqab Bans” – Dr Miriam Zucker (November 24, 2021)

November 24, 2021 – Co-sponsored with the IFLS

“Unmasking the Hypocrisy of the Niqab Bans”

Dr. Miriam Zucker
Via Zoom


In the last fifteen years many European countries have passed laws that ban the wearing of full-face Muslim veils in public places. In several cases reaching the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR),the court upheld such laws, based on the principle of “living together”. The ECtHR reasoned that the minimum requirements of life in society include the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which it considered impeded by face-covering garments. Recently, the trend of banning these garments seems to have extended beyond the European continent. For example, Quebec’s “religious symbols” law obliges civil servants to carry out their functions without wearing religious face coverings.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many jurisdictions have made facemasks mandatory in public transport and public institutions. While these laws have transformed our public spaces, it appears that we manage to ‘live together’ in these face-covered public spaces. Considering these developments, my talk will question the coherency of the Muslim face veil bans.Miriam Zucker

Miriam Zucker received her SJD degree from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law
and her LLM from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  She researches the areas of Multiculturalism and Feminism, Law and Religion, and Constitutional Law, and she is the recipient of the Audre Rapport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights (2021). 

Organized by the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies and co-sponsored by the Osgoode Colloquium on Law, Religion & Social Thought

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