This December, Oxford University Press will release “Mapping the Legal Boundaries: Religion and Multiculturalism from Israel to Canada” edited by Rene Provost (McGill University). The publisher’s description follows:
For several decades, culture played a central role in challenging the liberal tradition. More recently however, religion has re-emerged as one of the central challenges facing Western liberal societies’ conception of multiculturalism. Mapping the Legal Boundaries of Belonging explores the complex relationship between religion and multiculturalism and the role of the state and law in the creation of boundaries.
The intersection between religion, nationalism and other vectors of difference in Canada and Israel offer an ideal laboratory in which to examine multiculturalism in particular and the governance of diversity in general. The contributors to this volume investigate concepts of religious difference and diversity and the ways in which these two states and legal systems understand and respond to them. As a consequence of a purportedly secular human rights perspective, they show, state laws may appear to define religious identity in a way that contradicts the definition found within a particular religion. Both state and religion make the same mistake if they take a court decision that emphasizes individual belief and practice as effecting a direct modification of a religious norm: the court lacks the power to change the authoritative internal definition of who belongs to a particular faith. Similarly, in the pursuit of a particular model of social diversity, the state may adopt policies that imply a particular private/public distinction foreign to some religious traditions.
This month Polity Books will publish Multiculturalism by Tariq Modood (University of Bristol). The publisher’s description follows.
At a time when many public commentators are turning against multiculturalism in response to fears about militant Islam, immigration or social cohesion, Tariq Modood, one of the world’s leading authorities on multiculturalism, provides a distinctive contribution to these debates. He contends that the rise of Islamic terrorism has neither discredited multiculturalism nor heralded a clash of civilizations. Instead, it has highlighted a central challenge for the 21st century – the urgent need to include Muslims in contemporary conceptions of democratic citizenship.
In the second edition of this popular and compelling book, Modood updates his original argument with two new chapters. He reassesses the relationship between multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and assimilation, demonstrating that multiculturalism is crucial for successful integration. He also argues that while multiculturalism poses a significant challenge to existing forms of secularism, this challenge should not be exaggerated into a crisis. In so doing, Modood adds new vigor to the claim that multiculturalism remains a living force which is shaping our polities, even as its death is repeatedly announced.
This book will appeal to students, researchers and teachers of politics, sociology and public policy, as well as to anyone interested in the prospects of multiculturalism today.
This December, Wilfrid Laurier University Press will publish Discipline, Devotion, and Dissent: Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic Schooling in Canada edited by Graham P. McDonough (University of Victoria), Nadeem A. Memon (Islamic Teacher Education Program and Wilfrid Laurier University), and Avi I. Mintz (University of Tulsa). The publisher’s description follows.
The education provided by Canada’s faith-based schools is a subject of public, political, and scholarly controversy. As the population becomes more religiously diverse, the continued establishment and support of faith-based schools has reignited debates about whether they should be funded publicly and to what extent they threaten social cohesion.
These discussions tend to occur without considering a fundamental question: How do faith-based schools envision and enact their educational missions?Discipline, Devotion, and Dissent offers responses to that question by examining a selection of Canada’s Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic schools. The daily reality of these schools is illuminated through essays that address the aims and practices that characterize these schools, how they prepare their students to become citizens of a multicultural Canada, and how they respond to dissent in the classroom.
The essays in this book reveal that Canada’s faith-based schools sometimes succeed and sometimes struggle in bridging the demands of the faith and the need to create participating citizens of a multicultural society. Discussion surrounding faith-based schools in Canada would be enriched by a better understanding of the aims and practices of these schools, and this book provides a gateway to the subject.
Julian Rivers (U. of Bristol Law School) has posted The Secularisation of the British Constitution. The abstract follows.
In recent years, the relationship between law and religion has been subject to increased scholarly interest. In part this is the result of new laws protecting religious liberty and non-discrimination, and it may be that overall levels of litigation have increased as well. In all this activity, there are signs that the relationship between law and religion is changing. While unable to address every matter of detail, this article seeks to identify the underlying themes and trends. It starts by suggesting that the constitutional settlement achieved by the end of the nineteenth century has often been overlooked, religion only appearing in the guise of inadequately theorised commitments to individual liberty and equality. The article then considers the role of multiculturalism in promoting recent legal changes. However, the new commitment to multiculturalism cannot explain a number of features of the law: the minimal impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, the uncertain effect of equality legislation, an apparent rise in litigation in established areas of law and religion, and some striking cases in which acts have been found to be unlawful in surprising ways. In contrast, the article proposes a new secularisation thesis. The law is coming to treat religions as merely recreational and trivial. This has the effect of reducing the significance of religion as a matter of conscience, as legal system and as a context for public service. As a way of managing the ever-deepening forms of religious diversity present within the United Kingdom, such a secularisation strategy is implausible.
The Legal Workshop – one of my favorite websites – posted the short essay version of my recent article “Religious Arbitration and the New Multiculturalism: Negotiating Conflicting Legal Orders.” I have to say that I really enjoyed the process of distilling the core points of the full version of the article (available here) into the shorter format, which is what I think makes The Legal Workshop such a useful venue for reading up on recent scholarship.
In 2009, a Dutch court decided to prosecute right-wing politician Geert Wilders for hate speech. Wilders had made several highly critical comments about Islam and had produced a film, Fitna, that explored Islamist violence in a way that some people allege incites hatred against Muslims. In June 2011, the court acquitted Wilders of all charges. Robert Kahn (St. Thomas – Minnesota) has posted a piece, The Acquittal of Geert Wilders and Dutch Political Culture, that discusses Wilder’s case and its implications for multiculturalism. The abstract follows. — MLM
The June 23, 2011 acquittal of Geert Wilders has been viewed as a victory for freedom of speech over multiculturalism. While containing an element of truth, this framing has limitations. First, even as Wilders’ “triumphed” over multiculturalism he still cast himself as a champion of Dutch tolerance. Second, Wilders’ victory was a narrow one. The court, while acquitting, noted that Wilders went right to the line of permissible speech. Wilders acquittal does not necessarily portend an end of Dutch exceptionalism or its hate speech laws. Instead, the trial was noteworthy for (i) its obsession with the Nazi past, (ii) its debate over the rights and duties of a politician, and (iii) the conflict that arose between one of Wilders’ witnesses and an appeals court judge who in 2009 ordered the prosecutor to bring charges against Wilders.
Victor M. Muniz-Fraticelli (McGill – Faculty of Law) has posted The Distinctiveness of Religious Liberty. The abstract follows. – ARH
The model of religious freedom in diverse liberal-democracies has been mistakenly incorporated into the multicultural paradigm. The wholesale incorporation of the religious liberty paradigm into the multicultural paradigm is an institutional, historical, and conceptual mistake, and it distorts our understanding of the institutions that enshrine religious liberty and underlie our justification of them. The Western paradigm of religious liberty is a complex product of diverse historical conflicts and political traditions, and only contingently overlaps the multicultural argument. The purpose of this essay is to differentiate religious liberty from multiculturalism as theoretical categories, and to at least identify some of the consequences of this differentiation.