This month, the Oxford University Press releases “Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-51,” by Laura A.M. Stewart (University of London). The publisher’s description follows:
The English revolution is one of the most intensely-debated events in history; parallel events in Scotland have never attracted the same degree of interest. Rethinking the Scottish Revolution argues for a new interpretation of the seventeenth-century Scottish revolution that goes beyond questions about its radicalism, and reconsiders its place within an overarching ‘British’ narrative.
In this volume, Laura Stewart analyses how interactions between print and manuscript polemic, crowds, and political performances enabled protestors against a Prayer Book to destroy Charles I’s Scottish government. Particular attention is given to the way in which debate in Scotland was affected by the emergence of London as a major publishing centre. The subscription of the 1638 National Covenant occurred within this context and further politicized subordinate social groups that included women. Unlike in England, however, public debate was contained. A remodelled constitution revivified the institutions of civil and ecclesiastical governance, enabling Covenanted Scotland to pursue interventionist policies in Ireland and England – albeit at terrible cost to the Scottish people.
War transformed the nature of state power in Scotland, but this achievement was contentious and fragile. A key weakness lay in the separation of ecclesiastical and civil authority, which justified for some a strictly conditional understanding of obedience to temporal authority. Rethinking the Scottish Revolution explores challenges to legitimacy of the Covenanted constitution, but qualifies the idea that Scotland was set on a course to destruction as a result. Covenanted government was overthrown by the new model army in 1651, but its ideals persisted. In Scotland as well as England, the language of liberty, true religion, and the public interest had justified resistance to Charles I. The Scottish revolution embedded a distinctive and durable political culture that ultimately proved resistant to assimilation into the nascent British state.
This month, the Oxford University Press will release “Muted Modernists: The Struggle over Divine Politics in Saudi Arabia,” by Madawi Al-Rasheed (London School of Economics). The publisher’s description follows:
Analysis of both official and opposition Saudi divine politics is often monolithic, conjuring images of conservatism, radicalism, misogyny and resistance to democracy. Madawi Al-Rasheed challenges this stereotype as she examines a long tradition of engaging with modernism that gathered momentum with the Arab uprisings and incurred the wrath of both the regime and its Wahhabi supporters. With this nascent modernism, constructions of new divine politics, anchored in a rigorous reinterpretation of foundational Islamic texts and civil society activism are emerging in a context where authoritarian rule prefers its advocates to remain muted. The author challenges scholarly wisdom on Islamism in general and blurs the boundaries between secular and religious politics.
Today, Cambridge University Press publishes Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion, edited by Joel A. Nichols (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota). The publisher’s description follows.
American family law makes two key assumptions: first, that the civil state possesses sole authority over marriage and divorce; and second, that the civil law may contain only one regulatory regime for such matters. These assumptions run counter to the multicultural and religiously plural nature of our society. They are also wrong. This book elaborates how those assumptions are descriptively incorrect, and it begins an important conversation about whether more pluralism in family law is normatively desirable. For example, may couples rely upon religious tribunals (Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise) to decide family law disputes? May couples opt into stricter divorce rules, either through premarital contracts or “covenant marriages?” How should the state respond when couples purport to do these things? Intentionally interdisciplinary and international in scope, this volume contains contributions from fourteen leading scholars. The authors address the provocative question of whether the state must consider sharing its jurisdictional authority with other groups in family law.
This November, Tauris Academic Studies will publish Muslim Minorities and Citizenship: Authority, Communities and Islamic Law by Sean Oliver-Dee (Associate Research Fellow, London School of Theology). The publisher’s description follows.
The issues of citizenship, identity, and cohesion have rarely been as vital as they are today. Since the events of 9/11 and subsequent terrorist episodes in Bali, Madrid, London, and elsewhere, focus in this area has centered primarily upon Muslim minority communities living in the West. This book examines the question of citizenship and loyalty, drawing on the historical contexts of Muslim minorities living under British and French imperial rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and looks at how shari’a functioned within the context of imperial civil code. It draws important comparisons that are of immense relevance today, and engages with current debates about the compatibility of Islamic law with civil law in non-Islamic societies. Engaging with both Muslim minority and government perspectives, this is important reading for scholars, students, commentators, and policy-makers concerned with the question of Western engagement with its own minorities.
Gillian Douglas (Cardiff Law School), Norman Doe (Cardiff Law School), Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion), Russell Sandberg (Cardiff Law School), and Asma Kahn (former research associate at Cardiff University) have posted Social Cohesion and Civil Law: Marriage, Divorce and Religious Courts. The abstract follows.—YAH
This is the report of the project, ‘Social Cohesion and Civil Law: Marriage, Divorce and Religious Courts’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which explored how religious law functions alongside civil law in the area of marriage and divorce. It examines the workings of three religious courts in detail: a Jewish Beth Din; a matrimonial tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church; and a Muslim “Shariah Council”. It finds that these tribunals provide an important service for their users in enabling them to remarry within their faith, which serves both to enable them to remain within their faith community and to regularize their position with the religious authorities. None of the tribunals sought greater autonomy and all recognized the supremacy of state law.