Around the Web This Week

Here are some interesting law and religion stories from around the web this week:

Berg-Sørensen (ed.), “Contesting Secularism”

Layout 1This April, Ashgate Publishing will publish Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives edited by Anders Berg-Sørensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). The publisher’s description follows.

As we enter the twenty-first century, the role of religion within civic society has become an issue of central concern across the world. The complex trends of secularism, multiculturalism and the rise of religiously motivated violence raise fundamental questions about the relationship between political institutions, civic culture and religious groups. Contesting Secularism represents a major intervention into this debate. Drawing together contributions from leading scholars from across the world it analyses how secularism functions as a political doctrine in different national contexts put under pressure by globalisation. In doing so it presents different models for the relationship between political institutions and religious groups, challenging the reader to be more aware of assumptions within their own cultural context, and raises alternative possibilities for the structure of democratic, multi-faith societies.

Through its inter-disciplinary and comparative approach, Contesting Secularism sets a new agenda for thinking about the place of religion in the public sphere of twenty-first century societies. It is essential reading for policy-makers, as well as for scholars and students in political science, law, sociology and religious studies.

Pelkmans, “Ethnographies of Doubt”

Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 4.16.40 AMThis March, I.B. Tauris will publish Ethnographies of Doubt: Faith and Uncertainty in Contemporary Societies by M.E. Pelkmans (The London School of Economics and Political Science). The publisher’s description follows.

Religious and secular convictions have powerful effects, but their foundations are often surprisingly fragile. New converts often come across as stringent believers precisely because they need to dispel their own lingering doubts, while revolutionary movements survive only through the denial of ambiguity. This book shows that a focus on uncertainty and doubt is indispensable for grasping the role of ideas in social action. Drawing on a wide range of cases, from spirit mediums in Taiwan to Maoist revolutionaries in India, from right-wing populists in Europe to converts to Pentecostalism in Central Asia, the authors analyse the ways in which doubt is overcome and, conversely, how belief-systems collapse. In doing so, Ethnographies of Doubt provides important insights into the cycles of faith, hope, conviction and disillusion that are intrinsic to the human condition.