Category Archives: Scholarship Roundup

Keister & Sherkat (eds.), “Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion and Inequality in 9781107657113America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification, edited by Lisa A. Keister (Duke University) and Darren E. Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows.

Religion is one of the strongest and most persistent correlates of social and economic inequalities. Theoretical progress in the study of stratification and inequality has provided the foundation for asking relevant questions, and modern data and analytic methods enable researchers to test their ideas in ways that eluded their predecessors. A rapidly growing body of research provides strong evidence that religious affiliation and beliefs affect many components of well-being, such as education, income, and wealth. Despite the growing quantity and quality of research connecting religion to inequality, no single volume to date brings together key figures to discuss various components of this process. This volume aims to fill this gap with contributions from top scholars in the fields of religion and sociology. The essays in this volume provide important new details about how and why religion and inequality are related by focusing on new indicators of inequality and well-being, combining and studying mediating factors in new and informative ways, focusing on critical and often understudied groups, and exploring the changing relationship between religion and inequality over time.

Stein, “Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria”

Next month, the University of Chicago Press will publish Saharan Jews and the9780226123745 Fate of French Algeria, by Sarah Abrevaya Stein (University of California, Los Angeles). The publisher’s description follows.

The history of Algerian Jews has thus far been viewed from the perspective of communities on the northern coast, who became, to some extent, beneficiaries of colonialism.  But to the south, in the Sahara, Jews faced a harsher colonial treatment. In Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria, Sarah Abrevaya Stein asks why the Jews of Algeria’s south were marginalized by French authorities, how they negotiated the sometimes brutal results, and what the reverberations have been in the postcolonial era.

Drawing on materials from thirty archives across six countries, Stein tells the story of colonial imposition on a desert community that had lived and traveled in the Sahara for centuries. She paints an intriguing historical picture—of an ancient community, trans-Saharan commerce, desert labor camps during World War II, anthropologist spies, battles over oil, and the struggle for Algerian sovereignty. Writing colonialism and decolonization into Jewish history and Jews into the French Saharan one, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria is a fascinating exploration not of Jewish exceptionalism but of colonial power and its religious and cultural differentiations, which have indelibly shaped the modern world. 

Call for Papers: Law, Religion and Bioethics

The journal, Quaderni di Diritto e Politica Ecclesiastica, is soliciting papers for a 2015 issue on the topic, “Law, Religion and Bioethics.” Submissions should address novel research in the following fields:

  • Human Dignity and Bioethics in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
  • Conscientious Objection and Bioethics
  • Open and emerging issues in bioethics and law in Israel, Russia, Egypt, India

The deadline for submission is October 11, 2014. For details, please contact redazioneqdpe1@libero.it.

Miller, “Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church”

Next month, University of California Press will publish Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church by Patricia Miller. The publisher’s description follows.

Good Catholics tells the story of the remarkable individuals who have engaged in a nearly fifty-year struggle to assert the moral legitimacy of a pro-choice position in the Catholic Church, as well as the concurrent efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to suppress abortion dissent and to translate Catholic doctrine on sexuality into law. Miller recounts a dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution, which demonstrates the profound and surprising influence that the conflict over abortion in the Catholic Church has had not only on the church but also on the very fabric of U.S. politics. Good Catholics addresses many of today’s hot-button questions about the separation of church and state, including what concessions society should make in public policy to matters of religious doctrine, such as the Catholic ban on contraception.

Sirry, “Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions”

On June 2, Oxford University Press will publish Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions by Mun’im Sirry (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows.Scriptural Polemics

A number of passages in the Qur’an criticize Jews and Christians, from claims of exclusive salvation and charges of Jewish and Christian falsification of revelation to cautions against the taking of Jews and Christians as patrons, allies, or intimates. Mun’im Sirry offers a novel exploration of these polemical passages, which have long been regarded as obstacles to peaceable interreligious relations, through the lens of twentieth-centurytafsir (exegesis). He considers such essential questions as: How have modern contexts shaped Muslim reformers’ understanding of the Qur’an, and how have the reformers’ interpretations recontextualized these passages? Can the Qur’an’s polemical texts be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among religious communities in the modern world?

Sirry also reflects on the various definitions of apologetic or polemic as relevant sacred texts and analyzes reformist tafsirs with careful attention to argument, literary context, and rhetoric in order to illuminate the methods, positions, and horizons of the exegeses.Scriptural Polemics provides both a critical engagement with the tafsirs and a lucid and original examination of Qur’anic language, logic, and dilemmas, showing how the dynamic and varied reformist interpretations of these passages open the way for a less polemical approach to other religions.

Sandberg, “Religion, Law and Society”

9781107027435This June, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion, Law and Society by Russell Sandberg (Cardiff University). The publisher’s description follows.

Issues concerning religion in the public sphere are rarely far from the headlines. As a result, scholars have paid increasing attention to religion. These scholars, however, have generally stayed within the confines of their own respective disciplines. To date there has been little contact between lawyers and sociologists. Religion, Law and Society explores whether, how and why law and religion should interact with the sociology of religion. It examines sociological and legal materials concerning religion in order to find out what lawyers and sociologists can learn from each other. A groundbreaking, provocative and thought-provoking book, it is essential reading for lawyers, sociologists and all who are interested in the relationship between religion, law and society in the twenty-first century.

Janes & Houen (eds.), “Martyrdom and Terrorism: Pre-Modern to Contemporary Perspectives”

9780199959853This June, Oxford University Press will publish Martyrdom and Terrorism: Pre-Modern to Contemporary Perspectives edited by Dominic Janes (University of London) and Alex Houen (University of Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows.

In recent years, terrorism has become closely associated with martyrdom in the minds of many terrorists and in the view of nations around the world. In Islam, martyrdom is mostly conceived as “bearing witness” to faith and God. Martyrdom is also central to the Christian tradition, not only in the form of Christ’s Passion or saints faced with persecution and death, but in the duty to lead a good and charitable life. In both religions, the association of religious martyrdom with political terror has a long and difficult history. The essays of this volume illuminate this history-following, for example, Christian martyrdom from its origins in the Roman world, to the experience of the deaths of “terrorist” leaders of the French Revolution, to parallels in the contemporary world-and explore historical parallels among Islamic, Christian, and secular traditions. Featuring essays from eminent scholars in a wide range of disciplines, Martyrdom and Terrorism provides a timely comparative history of the practices and discourses of terrorism and martyrdom from antiquity to the twenty-first century.

The Weekly Five

This week we feature new work on the rhetoric of US Supreme Court opinions; a comparative study of same-sex unions; more specific studies of polygamy and gay marriage; the legal status of women in Pakistan; and claims of religious accommodation in the workplace.

1. Steven Douglas Smith (University of San Diego), The Jurisprudence of Denigration: Smith reflects on Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in United States v. Windsor (2013). Specifically, he criticizes Kennedy’s claim in the opinion that supporters of Section 3 of DOMA acted from a  a “purpose…to demean,” “to injure,” and “to disparage.” He concludes that this type of denigrating jurisprudence reflects more general patterns in constitutional and moral discourse, in which “the only kind of admissible and potentially persuasive argument is one that attacks the character or motives of one’s opponent.”

2. W. Cole Durham (BYU), Robert Theron Smith (BYU), William C. Duncan (Marriage Law Foundation), A Comparative Analysis of Laws Pertaining to Same-Sex Unions: The authors survey various countries’ approach to the regulation of same-sex unions, and they argue that, as to those countries that recognize same-sex unions, legal change through legislative processes has certain advantages over legal change through the courts.

3. Danièle Hervieu-Léger (French National Center for Scientific Research & Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and Janet Bennion (Lyndon State College), The Meanings of Marriage in the West: Law, Religion and ‘Nature’: Both authors discuss the sense in which law rejects “natural” conceptions of marriage. Bennion focuses on polygamous communities in Montana, Utah, and Mexico. She “reject[s] the notion that polygamy is uniformly abusive, anti-feminist, and dysfunctional.” Hervieu-Léger instead focuses on gay marriage. She is puzzled by, and criticizes, “the way in which the Catholic Church (by which I refer to its institutional representatives) has tried to use this debate to reassert its normative capacity within the public sphere.”

4. Zia Ullah Ranjah (International Islamic University–Islamabad) & Shahbaz Ahmad Cheema (University of the Punjab), Protection of Legal Status of Women in Pakistan: An Analysis of the Role of the Supreme Court: The authors discuss the function of the Supreme Court of Pakistan within Pakistan’s constitutional structure and the court’s role in protecting the rights of women, offering various recommendations.

5. Dallan Flake (BYU), Image is Everything: Corporate Branding and Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: Flake claims that courts should more closely scrutinize claims of religious accommodation within the workplace “because a company’s image is one of its most valuable assets.” Among his recommendations are that courts reject claims of accommodation if they impose anything more than de minimis burdens on employers and that they defer more broadly to the employers’ interest.

Aronoff, “The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard-Liners Opt for Peace by Yael S. Aronoff (James Madison College).  PO Psychology The publisher’s description follows.

This book examines leaders of the seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. It takes as an intellectual target of opportunity six Israeli prime ministers, asking why some of them have persisted in some hard-line positions but others have opted to become peacemakers. This book argues that some leaders do change, and above all it explains why and how such changes come about. This book goes beyond arguing simply that “leaders matter” by analyzing how their particular belief systems and personalities can ultimately make a difference to their country’s foreign policy, especially toward a long-standing enemy. Although no hard-liner can stand completely still in the face of important changes, only those with ideologies that have specific components that act as obstacles to change and who have an orientation toward the past may need to be replaced for dramatic policy changes to take place.

Quero & Shoji, “Transnational Faiths”

Next month, Ashgate will publish Transnational Faiths: Latin-American Immigrants and Their Religions in Japan by Hugo Córdova Quero (Graduate Transnational FaithsTheological Union) and Rafael Shoji (Pontifical Catholic University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Japan has witnessed the arrival of thousands of immigrants, since the 1990s, from Latin America, especially from Brazil and Peru. Along with immigrants from other parts of the world, they all express the new face of Japan – one of multiculturality and multi-ethnicity. Newcomers are having a strong impact in local faith communities and playing an unexpected role in the development of communities.

This book focuses on the role that faith and religious institutions play in the migrants’ process of settlement and integration. The authors also focus on the impact of immigrants’ religiosity amidst religious groups formerly established in Japan. Religion is an integral aspect of the displacement and settlement process of immigrants in an increasing multi-ethnic, multicultural and pluri-religious contemporary Japan. Religious institutions and their social networks in Japan are becoming the first point of contact among immigrants. This book exposes and explores the often missed connection of the positive role of religion and faith-based communities in facilitating varied integrative ways of belonging for immigrants. The authors highlight the faith experiences of immigrants themselves by bringing their voices through case studies, interviews, and ethnographic research throughout the book to offer an important contribution to the exploration of multiculturalism in Japan.