In March, Oxford University Press will release “The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies” by Phil Zuckerman (Pitzer College), Luke W. Galen (Grand Valley State University), and Frank L. Pasquale (cultural anthropologist). The publisher’s description follows:
The number of nonreligious people has increased dramatically over the past several decades, yet scholarship on the nonreligious is severely lacking. In response to this critical gap in knowledge, The Nonreligious provides a comprehensive summation and analysis of existing social scientific research on secular people and societies. The authors present a thorough overview of existing knowledge while also drawing upon ongoing research and suggesting ways to improve our understanding of this growing population. Offering a research- and data-based examination of the nonreligious, this book will be an invaluable source of information and a foundation for further scholarship. Written in clear, accessible language that will appeal to students and the increasingly interested general reader, The Nonreligiousprovides an unbiased and thorough account of relevant existing scholarship within the social sciences that bears on lived experiences of the nonreligious.
In March, the University of Chicago Press will release “The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in The Medieval Crown of Aragon,” by Hussein Fancy (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:
Sometime in April 1285, five Muslim horsemen crossed from the Islamic kingdom of Granada into the realms of the Christian Crown of Aragon to meet with the king of Aragon, who showered them with gifts, including sumptuous cloth and decorative saddles, for agreeing to enter the Crown’s service.
They were not the first or only Muslim soldiers to do so. Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Christian kings of Aragon recruited thousands of foreign Muslim soldiers to serve in their armies and as members of their royal courts. Based on extensive research in Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, The Mercenary Mediterranean explores this little-known and misunderstood history. Far from marking the triumph of toleration, Hussein Fancy argues, the alliance of Christian kings and Muslim soldiers depended on and reproduced ideas of religious difference. Their shared history represents a unique opportunity to reconsider the relation of medieval religion to politics, and to demonstrate how modern assumptions about this relationship have impeded our understanding of both past and present.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary,” by Heiner Bielefeldt (United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief), Nazila Ghanea (University of Oxford), and Michael Wiener (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and University of Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:
Violations of religious freedom and violence committed in the name of religion grab our attention on a daily basis. Freedom of Religion or Belief is a key human right, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, numerous conventions, declarations and soft law standards include specific provisions on freedom of religion or belief. The 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief has been interpreted since 1986 by the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. Special Rapporteurs (for example those on racism, freedom of expression, minority issues and cultural rights) and Treaty Bodies (for example the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Rights of the Child) have also elaborated on freedom of religion or belief in the context of their respective mandates.
Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary is the first commentary to look comprehensively at the international provisions for the protection of freedom of religion or belief, considering how they are interpreted by various United Nations Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. Structured around the thematic categories of the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s framework for communications, the commentary analyses the limitations on the wearing of religious symbols and vulnerable situations, including those of women, detainees, refugees, children, minorities and migrants, through a combination of scholarly expertise and practical experience.
Professor Scharffs at the Law and Religion Colloquium
This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett Scharffs in our biannual Colloquium on Law and Religion (above). Brett, who is BYU’s associate dean and the associate director of its magnificent International Center for Law and Religion Studies, presented his draft, “Four Models of Public Discourse and their Implications for the Public Sphere.” Brett has been a great friend of the Center for several years and we were delighted to have him with us. Next up: the University of Illinois’s Robin Fretwell Wilson (February 16).
In March, Oxford University Press will release “From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright Since the Birth of Print” by Neil Weinstock Netanel (University of California at Los Angeles School of Law). The publisher’s description follows:
Jewish copyright law is a rich body of jurisprudence that developed in parallel with modern copyright laws and the book privileges that preceded them. Jewish copyright law owes its origins to a reprinting ban that the Rome rabbinic court issued for three books of Hebrew grammar in 1518. It continues to be applied today, notably in a rabbinic ruling outlawing pirated software, issued at Microsoft’s request.
In From Maimonides to Microsoft, Professor Netanel traces the historical development of Jewish copyright law by comparing rabbinic reprinting bans with secular and papal book privileges and by relaying the stories of dramatic disputes among publishers of books of Jewish learning and liturgy. He describes each dispute in its historical context and examines the rabbinic rulings that sought to resolve it. Remarkably, the rabbinic reprinting bans and copyright rulings address some of the same issues that animate copyright jurisprudence today: Is copyright a property right or just a right to receive fair compensation? How long should copyrights last? What purposes does copyright serve? While Jewish copyright law has borrowed from its secular law counterpart at key junctures, it fashions strikingly different answers to those key questions.
The story of Jewish copyright law also intertwines with the history of the Jewish book trade and with steadfast efforts of rabbinic leaders to maintain their authority to regulate that trade in the face of the dramatic erosion of Jewish communal autonomy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This book will thus be of considerable interest to students of Jewish law and history as well as copyright scholars and practitioners.
In January, Routledge released “Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, 3rd Edition” edited by Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University, UK), Christopher Partridge (Lancaster University, UK), and Hiroko Kawanami (Lancaster University, UK). The publisher’s description follows:
Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations, Third Edition is the ideal textbook for those coming to the study of religion for the first time, as well as for those who wish to keep up-to-date with the latest perspectives in the field. This third edition contains new and upgraded pedagogic features, including chapter summaries, key terms and definitions, and questions for reflection and discussion. The first part of the book considers the history and modern practices of the main religious traditions of the world, while the second analyzes trends from secularization to the rise of new spiritualities. Comprehensive and fully international in coverage, it is accessibly written by practicing and specialist teachers.
This month, the University of Minnesota Press releases “Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance,” by Ajay Skaria (University of Minnesota). The publisher’s description follows:
Unconditional Equality examines Mahatma Gandhi’s critique of liberal ideas of freedom and equality and his own practice of a freedom and equality organized around religion. It reconceives satyagraha (passive resistance) as a politics that strives for the absolute equality of all beings. Liberal traditions usually affirm an abstract equality centered on some form of autonomy, the Kantian term for the everyday sovereignty that rational beings exercise by granting themselves universal law. But for Gandhi, such equality is an “equality of sword”—profoundly violent not only because it excludes those presumed to lack reason (such as animals or the colonized) but also because those included lose the power to love (which requires the surrender of autonomy or, more broadly, sovereignty).
Gandhi professes instead a politics organized around dharma, or religion. For him, there can be “no politics without religion.” This religion involves self-surrender, a freely offered surrender of autonomy and everyday sovereignty. For Gandhi, the “religion that stays in all religions” is satyagraha—the agraha (insistence) on or ofsatya (being or truth).
Ajay Skaria argues that, conceptually, satyagraha insists on equality without exception of all humans, animals, and things. This cannot be understood in terms of sovereignty: it must be an equality of the minor. This equality is simultaneously a resistance: satyagrahis (practitioners) must resist all that obscures absolute equality and do so passively, without sovereignty and in the spirit of absolute equality.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Salafism After the Arab Awakening: Contending with People’s Power,” edited by Francesco Cavatorta (Université Laval) and Fabio Merone (Dublin City University). The publisher’s description follows:
One of the most interesting consequences of the Arab awakening has been the central role of Salafists in a number of countries. In particular, there seems to have been a move away from traditional quietism towards an increasing degree of politicization. The arrival on the political scene of Salafist parties in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, as well as the seemingly growing desire of Salafists in other Arab countries to enter institutional politics through the creation of political parties, highlights quite clearly the debates and divisions on how to react to the awakening within Salafist circles.
This book examines in detail how Salafism, both theologically and politically, is contending with the Arab uprisings across a number of countries. The focus is primarily on what kind of politicization, if any, has taken place and what forms it has adopted. As some of the contributions make clear, politicization does not necessarily diminish the role of jihad or the influence of quietism, revealing tensions and struggles within the complex world of Salafism.
In March, Cambridge University Press will release “Christianity and Freedom: Volume 1. Historical Perspectives” edited by Timothy Samuel Shah (Georgetown University) and Allen D. Hertzke (University of Oklahoma). The publisher’s description follows:
In Volume 1 of Christianity and Freedom, leading historians uncover the unappreciated role of Christianity in the development of basic human rights and freedoms from antiquity through today. These include radical notions of dignity and equality, religious freedom, liberty of conscience, limited government, consent of the governed, economic liberty, autonomous civil society, and church-state separation, as well as more recent advances in democracy, human rights, and human development. Acknowledging that the record is mixed, scholars document how the seeds of freedom in Christianity antedate and ultimately undermine later Christian justifications and practices of persecution. Drawing from history, political science, and sociology, this volume will become a standard reference work for historians, political scientists, theologians, students, journalists, business leaders, opinion shapers, and policy makers.