In January, the Oxford University Press releases “Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran,” edited by Mahmood Monshipouri (San Francisco State University). The publisher’s description follows:
The post-Khomeini era has profoundly changed the socio-political landscape of Iran. Since 1989, the internal dynamics of change in Iran, rooted in a panoply of socioeconomic, cultural, institutional, demographic, and behavioural factors, have led to a noticeable transition in both societal and governmental structures of power, as well as the way in which many Iranians have come to deal with the changing conditions of their society. This is all exacerbated by the global trend of communication and information expansion, as Iran has increasingly become the site of the burgeoning demands for women’s rights, individual freedoms, and festering tensions and conflicts over cultural politics. These realities, among other things, have rendered Iran a country of unprecedented-and at time paradoxical-changes.
In February, the Nordic University Press will release “Religion, Law and Democracy: New Challenges for Society and Research” edited by Anna-Sara Lind (University of Uppsala), Mia Lövenheim (University of Uppsala), and Ulf Zackariasson (University of Uppsala). The publisher’s description follows:
How are Western, mostly secular, societies handling religion in its increasingly pluralistic and complex forms? What different forms of interactions between and negotiations of religion and religious beliefs can we see in contemporary society? What are the primary contenders in these interactions and negotiations? The authors of Religion, Law and Democracy give ample examples of a variety of interaction processes between different expressions of religion and different spheres of society, such as the media, the judicial systems and state administration and policy. The authors primarily approach these questions from a North European but also to some extent a global perspective. A common denominator is a dynamic perspective on the relation between religious organizations, society and the individual actors – in other words how all of these levels are interconnected and transformed in these processes.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim-Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging,” edited by Melissa Crouch (University of New South Wales). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume explores the relation between Islam, Buddhism, and the state in Myanmar from both an empirical and a comparative perspective. It provides an informed response to contemporary issues facing the Muslim communities of Myanmar furthering knowledge of the interaction between state institutions, government policies and Muslim communities of the past and the present.
This volume aims to provide scholarly insights into Islam and Buddhism in Myanmar, to emphasize the inherent diversity within and among Muslim communities, and to bring a scholarly perspective and insight into the complex issues raised by the position of Muslims in Myanmar. It brings together experts in the field from a diverse array of disciplinesareligious studies, international relations, political science, history, Islamic studies, law and anthropology. The volume is focused around the themes of colonialism and the state; the everyday experiences of Muslims; and the challenges of violence and security.
In September, Routledge released “European Culture Wars and the Italian Case: Which side are you on?” by Luca Ozzano (University of Turin) and Alberta Giorgi (University of Coimbra). The publisher’s description follows:
This book aims to understand the European political debate about contentious issues, framed in terms of religious values by religious and/or secular actors in 21st century. It specifically focuses on the Italian case, which, due to its peculiar history and contemporary political landscape, is a paradigmatic case for the study of the relationships between religion and politics.
In recent years, a number of controversies related to religious issues have characterised the European public debate at both the EU and the national level. The ‘affaire du foulard’ in France, the referendum on abortion in Portugal, the recognition of same-sex marriages in many Western European States, the debate over bioethics and the regulation of euthanasia are only a few examples of contentious issues involving religion. This book aims to shed light on the interrelation between these different debates, as well as their broader meaning, through the analysis of the paradigmatic case of Italy. Italy summarizes and sometimes exasperates wider European trends, both because of the peculiar role traditionally played by the Vatican in Italian politics and for the rise, since the 1990s, of new political entrepreneurs eager to exploit ethical and civilizational issues.
This work will be of great interest to scholars and students of a number of fields within the disciplines of political science, sociology and law, and will be useful for courses on religion and politics, political parties, social movements and civil society.
In January, HarperCollins Publishers will release “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): The Battles That Define America from Jefferson’s Heresies to Gay Marriage,” by Stephen Prothero (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows:
In this timely, carefully reasoned social history of the United States, the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One places today’s heated culture wars within the context of a centuries-long struggle of right versus left and religious versus secular to reveal how, ultimately, liberals always win.
Though they may seem to be dividing the country irreparably, today’s heated cultural and political battles between right and left, Progressives and Tea Party, religious and secular are far from unprecedented. In this engaging and important work, Stephen Prothero reframes the current debate, viewing it as the latest in a number of flashpoints that have shaped our national identity. Prothero takes us on a lively tour through time, bringing into focus the election of 1800, which pitted Calvinists and Federalists against Jeffersonians and “infidels;” the Protestants’ campaign against Catholics in the mid-nineteenth century; the anti-Mormon crusade of the Victorian era; the fundamentalist-modernist debates of the 1920s; the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s; and the current crusade against Islam.
As Prothero makes clear, our culture wars have always been religious wars, progressing through the same stages of conservative reaction to liberal victory that eventually benefit all Americans. Drawing on his impressive depth of knowledge and detailed research, he explains how competing religious beliefs have continually molded our political, economic, and sociological discourse and reveals how the conflicts which separate us today, like those that came before, are actually the byproduct of our struggle to come to terms with inclusiveness and ideals of “Americanness.” To explore these battles, he reminds us, is to look into the soul of America—and perhaps find essential answers to the questions that beset us.
Posted in Christina Vlahos, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged American History, Books, Christianity, Islam, Law and Culture, Law and Religion, Protestantism, Religion and Political Theory, Religion and Politics, Religion and Society, Religion in America, Same-sex Marriage, Secularism
In January, Ashgate will release “The Legal Treatment of Muslim Minorities in Italy: Islam and the Neutral State” by Andrea Pin (University of Padua). The publisher’s description follows:
Islam is a growing presence practically everywhere in Europe. In Italy,
however, Islam has met a unique model of state neutrality, religious freedom and church and state collaboration. This book gives a detailed description of the legal treatment of Muslims in Italy, contrasting it with other European states and jurisprudence, and with wider global tendencies that characterize the treatment of Islam. Through focusing on a series of case studies, the author argues that the relationship between church and state in Italy, and more broadly in Europe, should be reconsidered both to secure religious freedom and general welfare.
Working on the concepts of religious freedom, state neutrality, and relationship between church and state, Andrea Pin develops a theoretical framework that combines the state level with the supranational level in the form of the European Convention of Human Rights, which ultimately shapes a unitary but flexible understanding of pluralism. This approach should better accommodate not just Muslims’ needs, but religious needs in general in Italy and elsewhere.
In December, the Columbia University Press will release “The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century,” by Henri Lauzière (Northwestern University). The publisher’s description follows:
Some Islamic scholars hold that Salafism is an innovative and rationalist effort at Islamic reform that emerged in the late nineteenth century but disappeared in the mid twentieth. Others argue Salafism is an anti-innovative and antirationalist movement of Islamic purism that dates back to the medieval period yet persists today. Though they contradict each other, both narratives are considered authoritative, making it hard for outsiders to grasp the history of the ideology and its core beliefs.
Introducing a third, empirically based genealogy, The Making of Salafism understands the movement as a recent conception of Islam projected back onto the past, and it sees its purist evolution as a direct result of decolonization. Henri Lauzière builds his history on the transnational networks of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali (1894-1987), a Moroccan Salafi who, with his associates, oversaw Salafism’s modern development. Traveling from Rabat to Mecca, from Calcutta to Berlin, al-Hilali interacted with high-profile Salafi scholars and activists who eventually abandoned Islamic modernism in favor of a more purist approach to Islam. Today, Salafis claim a monopoly on religious truth and freely confront other Muslims on theological and legal issues. Lauzière’s pathbreaking history recognizes the social forces behind this purist turn, uncovering the popular origins of what has become a global phenomenon.
Next month, the University of Toronto Press will release “Law’s Religion: Religious Difference and the Claims of Constitutionalism” by Benjamin L. Berger (Osgoode Hall Law School). The publisher’s description follows:
Prevailing stories about law and religion place great faith in the capacity of legal multiculturalism, rights-based toleration, and conceptions of the secular to manage issues raised by religious difference. Yet the relationship between law and religion consistently proves more fraught than such accounts suggest. In Law’s Religion, Benjamin L. Berger knocks law from its perch above culture, arguing that liberal constitutionalism is an aspect of, not an answer to, the challenges of cultural pluralism. Berger urges an approach to the study of law and religion that focuses on the experience of law as a potent cultural force.
Based on a close reading of Canadian jurisprudence, but relevant to all liberal legal orders, this book explores the nature and limits of legal tolerance and shows how constitutional law’s understanding of religion shapes religious freedom. Rather than calling for legal reform, Law’s Religion invites us to rethink the ethics, virtues, and practices of adjudication in matters of religious 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.
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.
Posted in Christina Vlahos, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged Books, Comparative Law and Religion, India, Islam, Islamic Law, Jurisprudence, Law and Religion, Legal History, Marriage, Religion and Society, Religion in Asia