From SSRN’s list of most frequently downloaded law and religion papers posted in the last 60 days, here are the current top five. Since last week, Zoe Robinson rises to #1, replacing Douglas Laycock; Ian C. Bartrum rises to #2; Caroline Mala Corbin joins the list at number #3; Carl F. Minzner remains at #4; and Jeremy M. Christiansen joins the list at #5, replacing Daniel O. Conkle.
1.What is a ‘Religious Institution’? by Zoe Robinson (Depaul University College of Law) [269 downloads]
2. Book Review: ‘The Tragedy of Religious Freedom’ by Ian C. Bartrum (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) [106 downloads]
3.Corporate Religious Liberty by Caroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami School of Law) [88 downloads]
4. Book Review of ‘A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape its Political Future’ by Jiang Qing, edited by Daniel Bell and Ruiping Fan (Princeton University Press) by Carl F. Minzner (Fordham University- School of Law) [83 downloads]
5.‘The Word[ ] ‘Person’…Includes Corporations’: Why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Protects Both For- and Nonprofit Corporations by Jeremy M. Christiansen (University of Utah- S.J. Quinney College of Law) [78 downloads]
This month, Stanford University Press will publish Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village by Mary Elaine Hegland (University of Santa Clara). The publisher’s description follows.
Outside of Shiraz in the Fars Province of southwestern Iran lies “Aliabad.” Mary Hegland arrived in this then-small agricultural village of several thousand people in the summer of 1978, unaware of the momentous changes that would sweep this town and this country in the months ahead. She became the only American researcher to witness the Islamic Revolution firsthand over her eighteen-month stay. Days of Revolution offers an insider’s view of how regular people were drawn into, experienced, and influenced the 1979 Revolution and its aftermath.
Conventional wisdom assumes Shi’a religious ideology fueled the revolutionary movement. But Hegland counters that the Revolution spread through much more pragmatic concerns: growing inequality, lack of development and employment opportunities, government corruption. Local expectations of leaders and the political process—expectations developed from their experience with traditional kinship-based factions—guided local villagers’ attitudes and decision-making, and they often adopted the religious justifications for Revolution only after joining the uprising. Sharing stories of conflict and revolution alongside in-depth interviews, the book sheds new light on this critical historical moment.
Returning to Aliabad decades later, Days of Revolution closes with a view of the village and revolution thirty years on. Over the course of several visits between 2003 and 2008, Mary Hegland investigates the lasting effects of the Revolution on the local political factions and in individual lives. As Iran remains front-page news, this intimate look at the country’s recent history and its people has never been more timely or critical for understanding the critical interplay of local and global politics in Iran.
This month, Cornell University published Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia by Valerie Kivelson (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows.
In the courtrooms of seventeenth-century Russia, the great majority of those accused of witchcraft were male, in sharp contrast to the profile of accused witches across Catholic and Protestant Europe in the same period. While European courts targeted and executed overwhelmingly female suspects, often on charges of compacting with the devil, the tsars’ courts vigorously pursued men and some women accused of practicing more down-to-earth magic, using poetic spells and home-grown potions. Instead of Satanism or heresy, the primary concern in witchcraft testimony in Russia involved efforts to use magic to subvert, mitigate, or avenge the harsh conditions of patriarchy, serfdom, and social hierarchy.
Broadly comparative and richly illustrated with color plates, Desperate Magic places the trials of witches in the context of early modern Russian law, religion, and society. Piecing together evidence from trial records to illuminate some of the central puzzles of Muscovite history, Kivelson explores the interplay among the testimony of accusers, the leading questions of the interrogators, and the confessions of the accused. Assembled, they create a picture of a shared moral vision of the world that crossed social divides. Because of the routine use of torture in extracting and shaping confessions, Kivelson addresses methodological and ideological questions about the Muscovite courts’ equation of pain and truth, questions with continuing resonance in the world today. Within a moral economy that paired unquestioned hierarchical inequities with expectations of reciprocity, magic and suspicions of magic emerged where those expectations were most egregiously violated.
Witchcraft in Russia surfaces as one of the ways that oppression was contested by ordinary people scrambling to survive in a fiercely inequitable world. Masters and slaves, husbands and wives, and officers and soldiers alike believed there should be limits to exploitation and saw magic deployed at the junctures where hierarchical order veered into violent excess.