In March, Routledge will release “De-Radicalisation in the UK Prevent Strategy: Security, Identity and Religion,” by M.S. Elshimi (Royal United Services Institute). The publisher’s description follows:
This book examines de-radicalisation policy in the UK and addresses the contradictions evident in the conceptualisation and practice of de-radicalisation.
It explores three main themes that touch upon some of the most pressing issues of our day: security, identity and religion. Situated within the Prevent strand of the UK Counter-Terrorism policy and administered by the police through the ‘Channel Programme’, policymakers have promoted de-radicalisation as a vital instrument in the fight against terrorism. Despite the political and legal importance of de-radicalisation as an instrument of counter-terrorism, we continue to know very little about the programme and the profile of individuals who have been de-radicalised, as well as having little or no access to data on the programme. There is also a glaring lacuna in the wider literature regarding the concept, theory, and evidence base for de-radicalisation policies. This book addresses this lacuna and, with the use of data collected from interviews conducted with 27 practitioners, this work reveals the existence of multiple conceptions of de-radicalisation and a number of conceptual features unique to the UK context. Subsequently, the book proposes that de-radicalisation in the UK would be best conceptualised as ‘technologies of the self’. Seen in this way, de-radicalisation is less about tackling terrorism and radicalisation and more about the re-configuring of citizenship, the construction of a mainstream British identity, and the promotion of certain subjectivities in an era of uncertainty about British political identity.
This book will be of much interest to students of critical terrorism studies, de-radicalisation, counter-terrorism, UK politics and security studies in general.
In March, Cornell University Press will release “Charity and Social Welfare: The Dynamics of Religious Reform in Northern Europe, 1780-1920,” edited by Leen Van Molle (KU Leuven). The publisher’s description follows:
“Charity” is a word that fits well in the history of religion and churches, whereas the concept of social reform seems to belong more to the vocabulary of the modern welfare states. Christian charity found itself, during the long nineteenth century, within the maelstrom of social turmoil. In this context of social unrest, although charity managed to confirm its relevance, it was also subjected to fierce criticism, as well as to substitute state-run forms of social care and insurance. The history of the welfare states remained all too blind to religion. This book unravels how the churches in Britain and Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium shaped and adjusted their understanding of poverty. It reveals how they struggled with the “social question” and often also with the modern nation-states to which they belonged. Either in the periphery of public assistance or in a dynamic interplay with the state, political parties and society at large, the churches reinvented their tradition as providers of social relief.
In November, Cambridge University Press released “The Economics of Ottoman Justice: Settlement and Trial in the Sharia Courts,” by Metin Coşgel (University of Connecticut) and Boğaç Ergene (University of Vermont). The publisher’s description follows:
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations. In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time.
In March, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslim Women and Power: Political and Civic Engagement in West European Societies,” by Danièle Joly (University of Warwick) and Khursheed Wadia (University of Warwick). The publisher’s description follows:
This book provides an account of Muslim women’s political and civic engagement in Britain and France. It examines their interaction with civil society and state institutions to provide an understanding of their development as political actors. The authors argue that Muslim women’s participation is expressed at the intersections of the groups and society to which they belong. In Britain and France, their political attitudes and behaviour are influenced by their national/ethnic origins, religion and specific features of British and French societies. Thus three main spheres of action are identified: the ethnic group, religious group and majority society. Unequal, gendered power relations characterise the interconnection(s) between these spheres of action. Muslim women are positioned within these complex relations and find obstacles and/or facilitators governing their capacity to act politically. The authors suggest that Muslim women’s interest in politics, knowledge of it and participation in both institutional and informal politics is higher than expected. This book will appeal to students and scholars of politics, sociology, gender studies and social anthropology, and will also be of use to policy makers and practitioners in the field of gender and ethno-religious/ethno-cultural policy.
At the Library of Law and Liberty this morning, I have a post on the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom of 1786, the anniversary of which America marked last week. Among other things, I describe how Jefferson deftly combines Enlightenment and Evangelical Christian arguments to support religious freedom. Here’s a sample:
It’s fascinating, therefore, to go back and read the statute in its entirety. Three things stand out. First is the skillful way Jefferson combines two dramatically different strands of thought to justify religious freedom—Enlightenment Liberalism and Evangelical Christianity. (As a good lawyer, Jefferson knew how to make an argument in the alternative). “Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself,” the preamble declares; “she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error.” Through free debate, people could reason their way to truth, in religion as in other matters. No justification existed, therefore, for prohibiting people from expressing their religious opinions and trying to persuade others.
This Enlightenment defense of free inquiry was not likely to convince everyone, though, so Jefferson added an argument from Evangelical Christianity as well. Religious freedom was the plan of “the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either.” Establishments had resulted in “false religions over the greatest part of the world,” including, presumably, Catholicism and Islam. The point was clear: a good Evangelical Christian should support religious freedom, for Christianity’s sake. This combination of Evangelical and Enlightenment reasoning is a major theme in American church-state law, and it’s interesting to see how far back it goes.
That Jefferson, he was one shrewd lawyer. You can read the whole post here.
In February, McGill-Queen’s University Press will release The Islamic Challenge and the United States: Global Security in an Age of Uncertainty by Ehsan M. Ahrari (Strategic Studies Institute). The publisher’s description follows:
On September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden declared “global jihad” on the West. In response to the day’s attacks, the United States has waged its own global war on terrorism, which the Pentagon has described as a generational conflict similar to the Cold War.
In The Islamic Challenge and the United States, Ehsan Ahrari takes a close look at this ideological conflict, focusing on the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central Asia. Arguing that the war on terrorism is founded on secular fundamentalism (an ideology that envisions Islam as dangerous and volatile because it mixes religion and politics) and the Enlightenment narrative, Ahrari suggests that the United States sees global jihadists as absolutist, irrational, obscurantist, and anti-modern. While violence on behalf of the Muslim community – ummah – is thus framed as reprehensible, violence on behalf of the Western nation-state is seen as sometimes necessary and often praiseworthy. Unsettlingly, this framework does not encourage careful scrutiny of America’s historical dealings with the Muslim world. The belief that religion causes violence, Ahrari argues, may blind the West to its own forms of fanaticism.
A timely analysis of one of the most contested issues of our times, The Islamic Challenge and the United States is a must-read for global security practitioners, policymakers, and general readers.
This month, Penguin Random House released the paperback edition of The Myths of Liberal Zionism by Yitzhak Laor. The publisher’s description follows:
Yitzhak Laor is one of Israel’s most prominent dissidents and poets, a latter-day Spinoza who helps keep alive the critical tradition within Jewish culture. In this work he fearlessly dissects the complex attitudes of Western European liberal Left intellectuals toward Israel, Zionism and the Israeli peace camp. He argues that through a prism of famous writers like Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, the peace camp has now adopted the European vision of “new Zionism” promoting the fierce Israeli desire to be accepted as part of the West and taking advantage of growing Islamophobia across Europe. The backdrop to this uneasy relationship is the ever-present shadow of the Holocaust. Laor is merciless as he strips bare the hypocrisies and unarticulated fantasies that lie beneath the love-affair between liberal Zionists and their European supporters.
Congratulations to our former Law and Religion Fellow, John Boersma (left), for placing his article, The Accreditation of Religious Law Schools in Canada and the United States, in the current issue of the BYU Law Review. John, who’s now pursuing a PhD at LSU, wrote the paper in my comparative law and religion seminar a couple years ago.
Here’s the abstract:
Ongoing litigation in Canada suggests that the legal status of religiously affiliated law schools could be in jeopardy. In Canada, regulatory authorities have sought to deny accreditation status to a religiously affiliated law school (Trinity Western University) due to its commitment to a traditional Christian understanding of marriage. According to Canadian provincial authorities, this commitment has a discriminatory effect on LGBT students. Similar events could potentially occur in the United States. It is possible that American regulatory bodies could seek either to rescind or withhold accreditation from a religiously affiliated law school because of the discriminatory effects of its policies.
This comparative Article argues that as a matter both of public policy and law, the regulatory bodies concerned with the accreditation of law schools in both Canada and the United States have ample reason to accredit religiously affiliated law schools. First, as a matter of public policy, diversity in the type of law schools is beneficial due to the pluralism it engenders. Pluralism has long been recognized as a force for social stability in liberal democracies and is continually cited as beneficial by both Canadian and American courts. Furthermore, as a matter of law, both Canada and the United States provide for a robust protection of religious freedom that encompasses religiously affiliated law schools. This Article concludes that, as a result, regulatory authorities in Canada and the United States ought to encourage the proliferation of religiously affiliated law schools.
Readers can download the article here. Keep up the good work, John!
In February, Brill Publishers will release Contesting Religious Identities: Transformations, Disseminations and Mediations edited by Bob Becking (Utrecht University), Anne-Marie Korte (Utrecht University), and Lucien van Liere (Utrecht University). The publisher’s description follows:
Religion is a hot topic on the public stages of ‘secular’ societies, not in its individualized liberal or orthodox form, but rather as a public statement, challenging the divide between the secular neutral space and the religious. In this new challenging modus, religion raises questions about identity, power, rationality, subjectivity, law and safety, but above all: religion questions, contests and even blurs the borders between the public and the private. These phenomena urge to rethink what are often considered to be clear differences between religions, between the public and the private and between the religious and the secular. In this volume scholars from a range of different disciplines map the different aspects of the dynamics of changing, contesting and contested religious identities.