In April, the University of Rochester Press will release “Pragmatic Toleration: The Politics of Religious Heterodoxy in Early Reformation Antwerp, 1515-1555” by Victoria Christman (Luther College). The publisher’s description follows:
In a modern world still struggling to achieve religious coexistence, there has been a recent burgeoning of scholarship aimed at examining the history of such coexistence. Most of these studies focus on developments in the seventeenth century and beyond. This book redirects attention earlier, to the first half of the sixteenth century, and argues that impulses to toleration were already at work even amid the religious upheaval of the European Reformations. In the early modern metropolis of Antwerp, the author finds a wealthy merchant city struggling to balance the competing interests of municipality and empire. While their imperial overlords attempted to impose religious uniformity via increasingly repressive anti-heresy edicts, the city fathers of Antwerp found ways to circumvent those laws in order to accommodate the religious heterodoxy of their most valued inhabitants. The result was the development of pragmatically tolerant practices that arose in the service of fundamentally nonreligious motivations.
Via a series of case studies, this book documents the development of such practices on the part of the Antwerp fathers as they defended their heterodox inhabitants. It seeks to understand the motivations underlying the councilors’ lenient treatment of heterodoxy in their city, and attempts to answer the question of how we are to understand such pragmatically tolerant behavior as part of the broader history of religious tolerance in the Christian West.
In November, Routledge Publishing will release “Religion, Violence and Cities” edited by Liam O’Dowd (Queen’s University Belfast) and Martina McKnight (Queen’s University Belfast). The publisher’s description follows:
In exploring the connections between religion, violence and cities, the book probes the extent to which religion moderates or exacerbates violence in an increasingly urbanised world. Originating in a five year research project, Conflict in Cities and the Contested State, concerned with Belfast, Jerusalem and other ethno-nationally divided cities, this volume widens the geographical focus to include diverse cities from the Balkans, the Middle East, Nigeria and Japan. In addressing the understudied triangular relationships between religion, violence and cities, contributors stress the multiple forms taken by religion and violence while challenging the compartmentalisation of two highly topical debates – links between religion and violence on the one hand, and the proliferation of violent urban conflicts on the other hand. Their research demonstrates why cities have become so important in conflicts driven by state-building, fundamentalism, religious nationalism, and ethno-religious division and illuminates the conditions under which urban environments can fuel violent conflicts while simultaneously providing opportunities for managing or transforming them.
This month, Cambridge University Press will publish Toleration in Conflict: Past and Present (2013) by Rainer Forst (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt). The publisher’s description follows.
The concept of toleration plays a central role in pluralistic societies. It designates a stance which permits conflicts over beliefs and practices to persist while at the same time defusing them, because it is based on reasons for coexistence in conflict – that is, in continuing dissension. A critical examination of the concept makes clear, however, that its content and evaluation are profoundly contested matters and thus that the concept itself stands in conflict. For some, toleration was and is an expression of mutual respect in spite of far-reaching differences, for others, a condescending, potentially repressive attitude and practice. Rainer Forst analyses these conflicts by reconstructing the philosophical and political discourse of toleration since antiquity. He demonstrates the diversity of the justifications and practices of toleration from the Stoics and early Christians to the present day and develops a systematic theory which he tests in discussions of contemporary conflicts over toleration.
This month, the University of Hawaii Press published All Religions Merge in Tranquebar: Religious Coexistence and Social Cohesion in South India by Oluf Schonbeck and Peter B. Andersen (both of the University of Copenhagen). The publisher’s description follows.
With globalization helping those who assert incompatible differences between their respective faiths, clashes of faith are increasingly common in different parts of the world. As a result, the study of religious conflict is also increasing.
This book reverses that perspective by addressing a case of peaceful religious coexistence and social cohesion, namely in the South Indian village of Tranquebar (Tharangambadi) in Tamil Nadu. The birthplace of the Lutheran mission to India in 1706, this former Danish colonial settlement is now a famous heritage site.
Although badly hit by the 2004 tsunami and today numerically dominated by members of a Hindu fishermen’s caste, so far the town has managed to steer clear of the kind of religious conflicts too often found in a number of states in present-day India, including Tamil Nadu. This in-depth study, based on post-tsunami field studies in 2006 and 2007, examines the ways in which Hindus, Muslims and different Christian denominations interact in their day-to-day lives. Further, it demonstrates that the role played by religion – as far as social cohesion is concerned – is invariably tied up with several other factors (social stratification, economic development, educational institutions and such social communities as caste councils, etc.) and may serve as a basis for unity as well as division.