Around the Web This Week

Here are some interesting stories involving law and religion from this past week:

Royce, “The Political Theology of European Integration”

In May, Palgrave Macmillan will release “The Political Theology of European Integration: Comparing the Influence of Religious Histories on European Policies,” by Mark Royce (Northern Virginia Community College).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book traces the connections between diverging postwar European integration policies and intra-Christian divisions to argue that supranational integration 9783319534466originates from Roman Catholic internationalism, and that resistance to integration, conversely, is based in Protestantism. Royce supports this thesis through a rigorously supported historical narrative, arguing that sixteenth-century theological conflicts generated seventeenth-century constitutional solutions, which ultimately effected the political choices both for and against integration during the twentieth century. Beginning with a survey of all ecclesiastical laws of seventeen West European countries and concluding with a full discussion of the Brexit vote and emerging alternatives to the EU, this examination of the political theology surrounding the European Union will appeal to all scholars of EU politics, modern theology, religious sociology, and contemporary European history.

Orwin, “Redefining the Muslim Community”

Next month, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Redefining the Muslim Community: Ethnicity, Religion, and Politics in the Thought of Alfarabi,” by Alexander Orwin (Harvard University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Writing in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Baghdad, Alfarabi (870-950) is unique in the history of premodern political philosophy for his extensive discussion of pennpressbluelogothe nation, or Umma in Arabic. The term Umma may be traced back to the Qur’ān and signifies, then and now, both the Islamic religious community as a whole and the various ethnic nations of which that community is composed, such as the Turks, Persians, and Arabs. Examining Alfarabi’s political writings as well as parts of his logical commentaries, his book on music, and other treatises, Alexander Orwin contends that the connections and tensions between ethnic and religious Ummas explored by Alfarabi in his time persist today in the ongoing political and cultural disputes among the various nationalities within Islam.

According to Orwin, Alfarabi strove to recast the Islamic Umma as a community in both a religious and cultural sense, encompassing art and poetry as well as law and piety. By proposing to acknowledge and accommodate diverse Ummas rather than ignoring or suppressing them, Alfarabi anticipated the contemporary concept of “Islamic civilization,” which emphasizes culture at least as much as religion. Enlisting language experts, jurists, theologians, artists, and rulers in his philosophic enterprise, Alfarabi argued for a new Umma that would be less rigid and more creative than the Muslim community as it has often been understood, and therefore less inclined to force disparate ethnic and religious communities into a single mold. Redefining the Muslim Community demonstrates how Alfarabi’s judicious combination of cultural pluralism, religious flexibility, and political prudence could provide a blueprint for reducing communal strife in a region that continues to be plagued by it today.

“Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes” (Bano, ed.)

In May, the Brandeis University Press will release “Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes: Women, Mediation, and Religious Arbitration,” edited by Samia Bano (University of London).  The publisher’s description follows:

Recently, new methods of dispute resolution in matters of family law—such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation—have created new forms of legal culture that 9781512600353affect minority communities throughout the world. There are now multiple ways of obtaining restitution through nontraditional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms. For some, the emergence of ADRs can be understood as part of a broader liberal response to the challenges presented by the settlement of migrant communities in Western liberal democracies. Questions of rights are framed as “multicultural challenges” that give rise to important issues relating to power, authority, agency, and choice. Underpinning these debates are questions about the doctrine and practice of secularism, citizenship, belonging, and identity.

Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes offers insights into how women’s autonomy and personal decision-making capabilities are expressed via multiple formal and nonformal dispute-resolution mechanisms, and as part of their social and legal lived realities. It analyzes the specific ways in which both mediation and religious arbitration take shape in contemporary and comparative family law across jurisdictions. Demarcating lines between contemporary family mediation and new forms of religious arbitration, Bano illuminates the complexities of these processes across multiple national contexts.

 

“Religion, Education and Human Rights” (Sjöborg & Ziebertz, eds.)

In May, Springer will release “Religion, Education and Human Rights: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives,” edited by Anders Sjöborg (Uppsala University) and Hans-Georg Ziebertz (University of Würzburg).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book examines the interconnectedness between religion, education, and human rights from an international perspective using an interdisciplinary approach. It deals 9783319540689with compulsory or secondary school education in different contexts, as well as higher education, and has as its common theme the multiplicity of secularisms in different national contexts. Presenting rich cases, the contributions include empirical and theoretical perspectives on how international trends of migration and cultural diversity, as well as judicialization of social and political processes, and rapid religious and social changes come into play as societies find their way in an increasingly diverse context. The book contains chapters that present case studies on how confessional or non-confessional Religious Education (RE) at schools in different societal contexts is related to the concept of universal human rights. It presents cases studies that display an intriguing array of problems that point to the role of religion in the public sphere and show that historical contexts play important and different roles. Other contributions deal with higher education, where one questions how human rights as a concept and as discourse is taught and examines whether withdrawing from certain clinical training when in university education to become a medical doctor or a midwife on the grounds of conscientious objections can be claimed as a human right. From a judicial point of view one chapter discerns the construction of the concept of religion in the Swedish Education Act, in relation to the Swedish constitution as well European legislation. Finally, an empirical study comparing data from young people in six different countries in three continents investigates factors that explain attitudes towards human rights.

Khan, “Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom”

In May, the Cornell University Press will release “Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom: The Sultanahs of Aceh, 1641−1699,” by Sher Banu A.L. Khan (National University of Singapore).  The publisher’s description follows:

In Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom, Sher Banu A. L. Khan provides a fresh perspective on the women who ruled in succession in Aceh for half the seventeenth logo_cornelluniversitypresscentury. Khan draws fresh evidence about the lives and reigns of the sultanahs from contemporary indigenous texts and the archives of the Dutch East India Company.

The long reign of the sultanahs of Aceh is striking in a society where women rulers are usually seen as unnatural calamities, a violation of nature, or even forbidden in the name of religion. Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom demonstrates how the sultanahs’ rule was legitimized by both Islam and adat (indigenous customary laws). Khan provides original insights on the women’s style of leadership and their unique relations with the male elite and foreign European envoys who visited their court. This book calls into question received views on kingship in the Malay world and shows how an indigenous polity responded to European companies in the age of early East-West encounters during Southeast Asia’s age of commerce.

Akhtar, “Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs”

In May, the Cambridge University Press will release “Philosophers, Sufis, and Caliphs: Politics and Authority from Cordoba to Cairo and Baghdad,” by Ali Humayun Akhtar (Bates College & University of Wisconsin – Madison).  The publisher’s description follows: 

What was the relationship between government and religion in Middle Eastern history? In a world of caliphs, sultans, and judges, who exercised political and religious 9781107182011authority? In this book, Ali Humayun Akhtar investigates debates about leadership that involved ruling circles and scholars of jurisprudence and theology. At the heart of this story is a medieval rivalry between three caliphates: the Umayyads of Cordoba, the Fatimids of Cairo, and the Abbasids of Baghdad. In a fascinating revival of Late Antique Hellenism, Aristotelian and Platonic notions of wisdom became a key component of how these caliphs debated their authority as political leaders. By tracing how these political debates impacted the theological scholars and their own conception of communal guidance, Akhtar offers a new picture of premodern political authority and the connections between Western and Islamic civilizations. It will be of use to students and specialists of the premodern and modern Middle East.

“Fragile Freedoms” (Lecce et al, eds.)

In May, Oxford University Press will release “Fragile Freedoms: The Global Struggle for Human Rights,” edited by Steven Lecce (University of Manitoba), Neil McArthur (University of Manitoba), and Arthur Schafer (University of Manitoba).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book is based upon a lecture series inaugurating the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights that took place in Winnipeg, Canada between September 2013 and May 97801902271802014.  Fragile Freedoms brings together some of the most influential contemporary thinkers on the theory and practice of human rights. The first two chapters, by Anthony Grayling and Steven Pinker, are primarily historical: they trace the emergence of human rights to a particular time and place, and they try to show how that emergence changed the world for the better. The next two chapters, by Martha Nussbaum and Kwame Anthony Appiah, are normative arguments about the philosophical foundations of human rights. The final three chapters, by John Borrows, Baroness Helena Kennedy, and Germaine Greer, are innovative applications of human rights to indigenous peoples, globalization and international law, and women. Wide ranging in its philosophical perspectives and implications, this volume is an indispensable contribution to the contemporary thinking on the rights that must be safeguarded for all people.

Ten Napel, “Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom”

In May, Routledge will release “Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom: To be Fully Human,” by Hans-Martien ten Napel (Leiden University).  The publisher’s description follows:

In both Europe and North America it can be argued that the associational and institutional dimensions of the right to freedom of religion or belief are increasingly 9781138647152coming under pressure. This book demonstrates why a more classical understanding of the idea of a liberal democracy can allow for greater respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief.

The book examines the major direction in which liberal democracy has developed over the last fifty years and contends that this is not the most legitimate type of liberal democracy for religiously divided societies. Drawing on theoretical developments in the field of transnational constitutionalism, Hans-Martien ten Napel argues that redirecting the concept and practice of liberal democracy toward the more classical notion of limited, constitutional government, with a considerable degree of autonomy for civil society organizations would allow greater religious pluralism. The book shows how, in a postsecular and multicultural context, modern sources of constitutionalism and democracy, supplemented by premodern, transcendental legitimation, continue to provide the best means of legitimating Western constitutional and political orders.

Reiter, “Contested Holy Places in Israel–Palestine”

Next month, Routledge will release “Contested Holy Places in Israel-Palestine: Sharing and Conflict Resolution,” by Yitzhak Reiter (Ashkelon Academic College).  The publisher’s description follows:

Over the last twenty years, there has been a growing understanding that conflicts in or over holy places differ from other territorial conflicts. A holy site has a profound 9781138243514meaning, involving human beliefs, strong emotions, “sacred” values, and core identity self-perceptions; therefore a dispute over such land differs from a “regular” dispute over land. In order to resolve conflicts over holy sites, one must be equipped with an understanding of the cultural, religious, social, and political meaning of the holy place to each of the contesting groups.

This book seeks to understand the many facets of disputes and the triggers for the outbreak of violence in and around holy sites. It analyses fourteen case studies of conflicts over holy sites in Palestine/Israel, including major holy sites such as Al-Haram al-Sharif/the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the Cave of the Patriarchs/Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in addition to disputes over more minor sites. It then compares these conflicts to similar cases from other regions and provides an analysis of effective and ineffective conflict mitigation and resolution tools used for dealing with such disputes. Furthermore, the book sheds light on the role of sacred sites in exacerbating local and regional ethnic conflicts.

By providing a thorough and systematic analysis of the social, economic, and political conditions that fuel conflicts over holy sites and the conditions that create tolerance or conflict, this book will be a key resource for students and scholars of conflict resolution, political science, and religious studies.

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