Tag Archives: Comparative Law and Religion

Norton, “A Question of Balance”

In January, Lexington Books released “A Question of Balance: A Study of Legal Equality and State Neutrality in the United States, France, and the Netherlands,” by Brenda J. Norton (Baylor University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The politics of the hijab and burqa lie at the intersection of the political and legal149852396xspheres. Consequently, the political and legal spheres have each attempted to enforce differing versions of the concepts of equality and neutrality. A cross-cultural and cross-national survey of judicial decisions and legislative action in these countries demonstrates how each is balancing individual rights and communal bonds, and adhering to or retreating from previously accepted human rights norms for women and religious practices.

Bielefeldt et al, “Freedom of Religion or Belief”

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 9780198703983key 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.

“Beyond the Secular West” (ed. Bilgrami)

In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Beyond the Secular West,” edited by Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows:

What is the character of secularism in countries that were not pervaded by Christianity, such as China, India, and the nations of the9780231170802 Middle East? To what extent is the secular an imposition of colonial rule? Has modern secularism evolved organically, or is it even necessary, and has it always meant progress? How does secularism comport with local religious cultures in Africa, and how does it work with local forms of power and governance in Latin America?

A vital extension of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, in which he exhaustively chronicled the emergence of secularism in Latin Christendom, this anthology applies Taylor’s findings to secularism’s global migration. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Nacim, Rajeev Bhargava, Akeel Bilgrami, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Sudipta Kaviraj, Claudio Lomnitz, Alfred Stepan, Charles Taylor, and Peter van der Veer each explore the transformation of Western secularism beyond Europe, and the collection closes with Taylor’s response to each essay. What began as a modern reaction to—as well as a stubborn extension of—Latin Christendom has become a complex export shaped by the world’s religious and political systems. Brilliantly alternating between intellectual and methodological approaches, this volume fosters a greater engagement with the phenomenon across disciplines.

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics (2d ed.) (Haynes, ed.)

In February. Routledge releases the second edition of the Routledge Handbook 9781138826991of Religion and Politics, edited by Jeffrey Haynes (London Metropolitan University). The publisher’s description follows:

From the United States to the Middle East, Asia and Africa, religion continues to be an important factor in political activity and organisation. The second edition of this successful handbook provides the definitive global survey of the interaction of religion and politics.

Featuring contributions from an international team of experts, it examines the political aspects of all the world’s major religions, including such crucial contemporary issues as religious fundamentalism, terrorism, the ‘war on terror’, the ‘clash of civilizations’, the Arab Spring, and science and religion. Each chapter has been updated to reflect the latest developments and thinking in the field, and new chapters such as ‘Postsecularism and international relations’ and ‘Securitization and Secularization: The two pillars of state regulation of European Islam’ have been added to ensure the book is a comprehensive and up-to-date resource.

Four main themes addressed include:

  • World religions and politics
  • Religion and governance
  • Religion and international relations
  • Religion, security and development

References at the end of each chapter have been overhauled to guide the reader towards the most up-to-date information on various topics. This book is an indispensable source of information for students, academics and the wider public interested in the dynamic relationship between politics and religion.

“Democracy, Culture, Catholicism” (Schuck and Crowley-Buck eds.)

In November, the Fordham University Press will release “Democracy, Culture, Catholicism: Voices from Four Continents,” edited by Michael J. Schuck (Loyola University of Chicago) and John Crowley-Buck (Loyola University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

Compiling scholarly essays from a unique three-year Democracy, Culture and Catholicism International Research Project, Democracy, Culture, Catholicism richly articulates the diverse and dynamic interplay of democracy, culture, and Catholicism in the contemporary world. The twenty-five essays from four extremely diverse cultures—those of Indonesia, Lithuania, Peru, and the United States—explore the relationship between democracy and Catholicism from several perspectives, including historical and cultural analysis, political theory and conflict resolution, social movements and Catholic social thought.

Mukherji, “Gandhi and Tagore: Politics, Truth and Conscience”

In November, Routledge will release “Gandhi and Tagore: Politics, Truth and Conscience” by Gangeya Mukherji (Mahamati Prannath Mahavidyalaya, India). The publisher’s description follows:

This book brings together the political thought of Gandhi and Tagore to examine the relationship between politics, truth and conscience. It explores truth and conscience as viable public virtues with regard to two exemplars of ethical politics, addressing in turn the concerns of an evolving modern Indian political community.

The comprehensive and textually argued discussion frames the subject of the validity of ethical politics in inhospitable contexts such as the fanatically despotic state and energised nationalism. The book studies in nuanced detail Tagore’s opposition to political violence in colonial Bengal, the scope of non-violence and satyagraha as recommended by Gandhi to Jews in Nazi Germany, his response to the complexity of protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the differently constituted nationalism of Gandhi and Tagore. It presents their famous debate in a new light, embedded within the dynamics of cultural identification, political praxis and the capacity of a community to imbibe the principles of ethical politics.

Comprehensive and perceptive in analysis, this book will be a valuable addition for scholars and researchers of political science with specialisation in Indian political thought, philosophy and history.

Gozdecka, “Rights, Religious Pluralism and the Recognition of Difference”

In September, Routledge released “Rights, Religious Pluralism and the Recognition of Difference: Off the Scales of Justice,” by Dorota Anna Gozdecka (Australian National University College of Law).  The publisher’s description follows:

Human rights and their principles of interpretation are the leading legal paradigms of our time. Freedom of religion occupies a pivotal position in rights discourses, and the principles supporting its interpretation receive increasing attention from courts and legislative bodies. This book critically evaluates religious pluralism as an emerging legal principle arising from attempts to define the boundaries of freedom of religion. It examines religious pluralism as an underlying aspect of different human rights regimes and constitutional traditions. It is, however, the static and liberal shape religious pluralism has assumed that is taken up critically here. In order to address how difference is vulnerable to elimination, rather than recognition, the book takes up a contemporary ethics of alterity. More generally, and through its reconstruction of a more difference-friendly vision of religious pluralism, it tackles the problem of the role of rights in the era of diverse narratives of emancipation.

Serajuddin, “Cases on Muslim Law of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh”

In September, Oxford University Press released “Cases on Muslim Law of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh,” by Alamgir Muhammad Serajuddin (University of Chittagong, Bangladesh).   The publisher’s description follows:

Muslim law is an integral part of the South Asian legal system, and case law plays a major role in its interpretation, application, and development. Through a selection of principal judicial decisions and significant fact situations from pre- and post-independent India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, this volume provides an easy access to the basic principles and rules of Muslim law, and shows how case law acts as a social barometer and an instrument of change.

The cases discussed cover such diverse areas as sources and interpretation of law, institution of marriage, polygamous marriages, dower, restitution of conjugal rights, talaq, khula, irreconcilable breakdown of marriage, legitimacy, guardianship, and maintenance of wives and divorced wives. Among the important legislations, it covers Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939, Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, and Muslim Women Act 1986.

The book also shows how religion-based rules of personal law have been interpreted by secular courts during certain epochs in history and how the trend of interpretation has changed over the last 150 years.

Kleidosty, “The Concert of Civilizations”

In July, Ashgate released “The Concert of Civilizations: The Common Roots of Western and Islamic Constitutionalism,” by Jeremy Kleidosty (University of Jyväskylä, Finland).  The publisher’s description follows:

Are Western and Islamic political and constitutional ideas truly predestined for civilizational clash? In order to understand this controversy The Concert of Civilizations begins by deriving and redefining a definition of constitutionalism that is suitable for comparative, cross-cultural analysis. The rule of law, reflection of national character, and the clear delineation and limitation of governmental power are used as lenses through which thinkers like Cicero, Montesquieu, and the authors of The Federalist Papers can be read alongside al-Farabi, ibn Khaldun, and the Ottoman Tanzimat decrees. Bridging the civilizational divide is a chapter comparing the Magna Carta with Muhammad’sConstitution of Medina, as both documents can be seen as foundational within their traditions. For the first time in political theory, this text also provides a sustained, detailed analysis of Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi’s book The Surest Path, which explains his fusion of Muslim and Western ideas in his writing of Tunisia’s first modern constitution, which is also the first constitution for a majority-Muslim state. Finally, the book discusses the Arab Spring through a brief overview of the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and offers some early thoughts about Tunisia’s uniquely successful revolution.

International Law and Religion Moot Court: Venice 2016

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The Fondazione Marcianum in Venice

The Fondazione Marcianum, a research center in Venice, will hold its second annual international law-and-religion moot court competition this coming March. The competition, which gathers law students from universities around the world, is the only one of its kind: a truly international competition in which students argue a case before panels simulating both the US Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Full disclosure: I took part as a judge in last year’s competition and found it extremely worthwhile. This year, I’ve helped craft the problem and will deliver one of the keynote addresses.

This year’s problem relates to the establishment of religion — to school prayer, specifically. You can download the problem here. I greatly encourage law students to consider competing. It’s a truly unique educational experience. Any questions, please contact the Fondazione here.