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.
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)
“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, 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
The promotion of religious freedom is ubiquitous. An impressive array of states and international authorities has taken up the cause of promoting religious freedom globally. The Canadian government is a recent example. This talk steps back from the excitement surrounding religious freedom advocacy to examine the power of religious freedom and the politics of governing social difference through religious rights.
Religious freedom advocacy singles out groups for legal protection as religious groups; molds religions into discrete “faith communities” with clean boundaries, clearly defined orthodoxies, and senior leaders who speak on their behalf; and privileges a modern liberal understanding of faith. This has important implications for the politics of religious diversity, and particularly for dissidents, doubters, and those who identify with nonorthodox versions of protected traditions.
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. She teaches and writes on the politics of religious diversity, secularism and governance, the intersection of law and religion, the politics of human rights, the history and politics of US foreign relations, and the international relations of the Middle East including Turkey and Iran. Professor Shakman Hurd is the author of the award-winning volume The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton, 2008), and co-edited Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age (Palgrave, 2010).
In our joint work, Chris Eisgruber and I have argued that a robust equality principle underwrites religious liberty in the United States. The touchstone is equal membership, which, in the name of justice, requires that a political community accord equal status to all persons, without regard to their race, ethnicity, religion or other fundamental aspects of their identities. In a liberal pluralist state like the United States, equal membership promotes a ruthless demand for equal treatment along the fault line of religious belief. But when we raise our gaze to the rest of the world, partiality is everywhere. Is it possible that in other regime types some forms of partiality can be tolerated? To grasp the nettle, consider Israel, which is committed by its founding documents to be both a “Jewish state” and a state that “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…”. Could a state satisfy both of these aspirations?
Larry Sager is the Alice Jane Drysdale Sheffield Regents Chair in the School of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. One of the United States’ pre-eminent constitutional theorists, Professor Sager is author of Justice in Plainclothes: a Theory of American Constitutional Practice (Yale 2004), and Religious Freedom and the Constitution (co-authored with Christopher Eisgruber) (Harvard 2007).
How does the public/private distinction so central to secular-liberal democracy inflect the secular state’s regulation of sex and religion? Focussing on contemporary France, this talk analyzes how political and legal practices aimed at securing secularity by rendering both sex and religion private paradoxically compel Muslim women to reveal in public the innermost details of their sexual and religious lives. That dual incitement to hide and to exhibit, and the grim consequences of exhibiting that which must be hidden, constitute “the cunning of secular power.”
Mayanthi Fernando is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California (Santa Cruz). Her research examines the political, religious, and legal practices that are generated in the contemporary encounter of Islam and French secularism. Professor Fernando is currently working on a book manuscript entitled On the Muslim Question: Islam, Secularism, and the Future of France, to be published with Duke University Press.
Many recent hate speech cases involve religion either as the source of views that are alleged to be hateful or as the subject of such views. The particular difficulty of these cases can be traced to a crucial ambivalence in our conception of religious adherence: is religious commitment a personal judgment that is, in theory, revisable, or is it a central element of an individual’s identity? Hate speech regulation depends on the distinction between attacks on an individual or group and attacks on an individual or group’s beliefs, which must be open to (even harsh and intemperate) debate. Yet our complex conception of religious adherence complicates this distinction in a variety of ways.
Richard Moon is a Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor. He is the author of The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression (Toronto 2000) and editor of Law and Religious Pluralism in Canada (UBC 2008).
Criminal Law, the Family and the Church have worked together as a mutually reinforcing economy, keeping the married woman in her place. All three institutions have prescribed rules for intimate married life, conferring authority on the husband, never the wife. But times are changing. The traditional marital rights of men have been formally curtailed, husbands can be charged with the rape of their wives and the married woman now has at least formal powers to refuse sexual access. The family has loosened its form and the power of the Church over intimate sexual matters has diminished. This paper considers the effects of this modernisaton of the lives of married women and men on the character of the criminal legal person. Are they his undoing?
Ngaire Naffine is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Adelaide. An innovative contributor to debates in jurisprudence, feminist legal theory, criminology, criminal law, and medical law, Professor Naffine is the author of Law’s Meaning of Life: Philosophy, Religion, Darwin and the Legal Person (Hart 2009).
Tracing recent shifts in our vision of religious pluralism’s value for democracy, this talk raises questions about the ground on which we imagine our political and religious present. Specifically, it asks how pluralism has come to be a robust sociological indication of religious freedom and, in the process, how it has become linked in new (and some surprisingly old) ways to claims for political freedom in democratic societies.
Courtney Bender is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Columbia University. One of the leading voices in the sociology and study of religion in the U.S., she is the author of The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination (Chicago 2010) and co-editor of What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age (Columbia 2012).