Law and Politics through an Interfaith Lens (co-sponsored with Religion and Politics)
Recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court again demonstrate the extent to which Christianity is woven into American law and politics. For example, debates rooted in Christian intellectual history dominate public discourse and manifest in attempts to regulate women’s bodies through limiting access to reproductive health care such as abortion and contraceptives. Such debates also spur the weaponization of religious freedom claims to justify discrimination based on religion, gender, and sexuality.
We invite paper, panel, or roundtable proposals that address these intersections of religion and politics through an interfaith lens, confronting the impact of Christian dominance in our multifaith society.
We encourage deep excavation of public discourse. Some media pundits characterized overturning Roe v. Wade as “Christian Sharia,” for example, demonstrating the ease with which Islamophobic tropes are embedded—and revealing deep-seated ignorance regarding the nuanced perspectives of non-Christian traditions on reproductive justice. Debates about immigration and gun control in the U.S. have also become correlated with the camps of Christian liberals and Christian conservatives. How might inter- and multi-religious perspectives challenge these polarized frames by providing alternative cognitive paradigms through which religion and politics can be viewed? What is the impact on non-Christian Americans who find themselves forced to align with categories, factions, and contentions that are rooted in the history of American Christian thought and practice?
Interreligious Dialogue: Borders and Transgressions
There is a tendency to present interreligious dialogue as an inclusive project that seeks to dismantle patterns of exclusion and to establish a sense of community between people who orient around religion differently. Dialogue, thus understood, is about both respecting and transgressing boundaries. Those committed to interreligious engagement tend to position themselves on the ‘right side of history,’ i.e. on the side of emancipation from religious bias and oppression. Does the tendency to think about dialogue in terms of inclusion, openness, and solidarity across difference, however, limit the critical potential of the so-called “interfaith movement?" Does it occlude self-examination of mutual elitisms that may arise among dialogue partners?
We invite paper, panel, or roundtable proposals that address key questions regarding this tension, including:
- How is dialogue functioning as a new hegemonic normative discourse which establishes imaginary boundaries between dialoguers and non-dialoguers?
- To what extent do normative assumptions which underpin interreligious dialogue limit its inclusive potential?
- How do we deepen critical capacities, since the dialogical turn is expressive of our (post-)modern and (post)secular Zeitgeist, with its dominant perspectives on religion and religious diversity?
- Looking back on more than six decades of interfaith dialogue, how does the idea(l) of dialogue in itself establish boundaries in terms of gender, race, class and religion?
Based on the success of our previous interactive workshops, we invite brief presentations (10 minutes) designed to stimulate substantive conversation on critical issues in Interreligious and Interfaith Studies and engagement. Please submit it as a paper proposal and indicate in your text that you intend it for the workshop.
We will address 4-5 of the following topics:
- Pedagogy, Syllabus Design and Exchange: Share your own syllabus and/or those of others teaching in the field to examine various approaches.
- Recent Publications in the Field: Discuss your own work or review significant new contributions
- Latinx Perspectives and Experience in the Interfaith World
- Teaching to the Context: What is it like to teach Interreligious Studies at a secular university, or a Christian institution, or a campus/region with little religious diversity? How does our teaching change, depending on context?
- Bridging the Worlds of the Academy and Activism
- Religious Difference and the Law
Presentations unfold simultaneously at separate tables, with attendees selecting the conversations in which they would like to participate.
We will also build in some time to gather for substantive conversation in “affinity” groups (e.g., PhD students, people working outside the academy, etc.). Feel free to reach out directly to the co-chairs with any ideas you would like to see included. You can also reach out if you want to pitch a cohort-based project or edited volume.