Datla, “The Language of Secular Islam”

Last month, the University of Hawaii Press published The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India by Kavita Datla (Mount Holyoke College). The publisher’s description follows.The Language of Secular Islam

During the turbulent period prior to colonial India’s partition and independence, Muslim intellectuals in Hyderabad sought to secularize and reformulate their linguistic, historical, religious, and literary traditions for the sake of a newly conceived national public. Responding to the model of secular education introduced to South Asia by the British, Indian academics launched a spirited debate about the reform of Islamic education, the importance of education in the spoken languages of the country, the shape of Urdu and its past, and the significance of the histories of Islam and India for their present.

The Language of Secular Islam pursues an alternative account of the political disagreements between Hindus and Muslims in South Asia, conflicts too often described as the product of primordial and unchanging attachments to religion. The author suggests that the political struggles of India in the 1930s, the very decade in which the demand for Pakistan began to be articulated, should not be understood as the product of an inadequate or incomplete secularism, but as the clashing of competing secular agendas. Her work explores negotiations over language, education, and religion at Osmania University, the first university in India to use a modern Indian language (Urdu) as its medium of instruction, and sheds light on questions of colonial displacement and national belonging.

Grounded in close attention to historical evidence, The Language of Secular Islam has broad ramifications for some of the most difficult issues currently debated in the humanities and social sciences: the significance and legacies of European colonialism, the inclusions and exclusions enacted by nationalist projects, the place of minorities in the forging of nationalism, and the relationship between religion and modern politics. It will be of interest to historians of colonial India, scholars of Islam, and anyone who follows the politics of Urdu.

Domingo on A New Paradigm for Religious Freedom

Rafael Domingo (University of Navarra) has posted A New Paradigm for Religious Freedom. The abstract follows.

This article articulates and defends a global normative paradigm of religious freedom: a minimum standard of respect for religious freedom that is rooted in human dignity and consistent with a variety of cultural and constitutional frameworks. This paradigm is fleshed out in three arguments: an argument about transcendence; an argument for a certain dualism about religion and politics, and an argument regarding regulation. The first focuses on the concept of religion; the second, on that of freedom; and the third, on rights. The first shows that, though the concept of religious freedom has rightly been expanded to protect nonbelievers as well as believers, all legal systems and constitutional frameworks should be open to the idea of transcendence as such, in order to protect the transcendent dimension of the human person. The argument for dualism calls for an interdependent dualistic structure that guarantees autonomy for both political and religious communities while imposing limits on the principle of laïcité and to theocratic impulses. Finally, the argument for regulation defends the power of political communities to regulate specifically those religious matters which affect the public sphere.

McCrudden on Legal and Roman Catholic Conceptions of Human Rights

Christopher McCrudden (Queen’s University School of Law & Michigan Law School) has posted Legal and Roman Catholic Conceptions of Human Rights: Convergence, Divergence, and Dialogue? The abstract follows.

This article explores the extent to which there is an overlapping consensus between the Roman Catholic and the legal traditions of human rights. In comparing both traditions, an understanding of what these two traditions mean by “human rights” is gleaned from some authoritative texts of these traditions. In the case of the Roman Catholic tradition, emphasis is given to the post-Vatican II encyclicals (without intending to be comprehensive), and in the case of the legal tradition, from domestic Bills of Rights, human rights treaties, and relevant judicial interpretations of those texts.