“Religious Interactions in Europe and the Mediterranean World” (Fukasawa et al, eds.)

In June, Routledge will release “Religious Interactions in Europe and the Mediterranean World: Coexistence and Dialogue from the 12th to the 20th Centuries,” edited by Katsumi Fukasawa (Kyoto-Sangyo University), Benjamin J. Kaplan (University College London), and Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis).  The publisher’s description follows:

 The religious histories of Christian and Muslim countries in Europe and Western Asia are often treated in isolation from one another. This can lead to a limited and 9781138743205simplistic understanding of the international and interreligious interactions currently taking place. This edited collection brings these national and religious narratives into conversation with each other, helping readers to formulate a more sophisticated comprehension of the social and cultural factors involved in the tolerance and intolerance that has taken place in these areas, and continues today.

Part One of this volume examines the history of relations between people of different Christian confessions in western and central Europe. Part Two then looks at the relations between Western and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the vast area that extends around the Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to western Asia. Each Part ends with a Conclusion that considers the wider implications of the preceding essays and points the way toward future research.

Bringing together scholars from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and America this volume embodies an international collaboration of unusual range. Its comparative approach will be of interest to scholars of Religion and History, particularly those with an emphasis on interreligious relations and religious tolerance.

Greene, “No Depression in Heaven: The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Transformation of Religion in the Delta”

Next month, Oxford University Press will release “No Depression in Heaven: The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Transformation of Religion in the Delta” by Alison Collis Greene (Mississippi State University). The publisher’s description follows:

In No Depression in Heaven, Alison Collis Greene demonstrates how the Great Depression and New Deal transformed the relationship between church and state. Grounded in Memphis and the Delta, this book traces the collapse of voluntarism, the link between southern religion and the New Deal, and the gradual alienation of conservative Christianity from the state.

At the start of the Great Depression, churches and voluntary societies provided the only significant source of aid for those in need in the South. Limited in scope, divided by race, and designed to control the needy as much as to support them, religious aid collapsed under the burden of need in the early 1930s. Hungry, homeless, and out-of-work Americans found that they had nowhere to turn at the most desolate moment of their lives.

Religious leaders joined a chorus of pleas for federal intervention in the crisis and a permanent social safety net. They celebrated the New Deal as a religious triumph. Yet some complained that Franklin Roosevelt cut the churches out of his programs and lamented their lost moral authority. Still others found new opportunities within the New Deal. By the late 1930s, the pattern was set for decades of religious and political realignment.

More than a study of religion and politics, No Depression in Heaven uncovers the stories of men and women who endured the Depression and sought in their religious worlds the spiritual resources to endure material deprivation. Its characters are rich and poor, black and white, mobile sharecroppers and wealthy reformers, enamored of the federal government and appalled by it. Woven into this story of political and social transformation are stories of southern men and women who faced the greatest economic disaster of the twentieth century and tried to build a better world than the one they inhabited.

Marsden, “The Crisis of Religious Toleration in Imperial Russia”

This month, Oxford University Press releases “The Crisis of Religious Toleration in Imperial Russia: Bibikov’s System for the Old Believers, 1841-1855” by Thomas Marsden (University College London). The publisher’s description follows:

This book is about an unprecedented attempt by the government of Russia’s Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) to eradicate what was seen as one of the greatest threats to its political security: the religious dissent of the Old Believers. The Old Believers had long been reviled by the ruling Orthodox Church, for they were the largest group of Russian dissenters and claimed to be the guardians of true Orthodoxy; however, their industrious communities and strict morality meant that the civil authorities often regarded them favourably. This changed in the 1840s and 1850s when a series of remarkable cases demonstrated that the existing restrictions upon the dissenters’ religious freedoms could not suppress their capacity for independent organisation. Finding itself at a crossroads between granting full toleration, or returning to the fierce persecution of earlier centuries, the tsarist government increasingly inclined towards the latter course, culminating in a top secret ‘system’ introduced in 1853 by the Minister of Internal Affairs Dmitrii Bibikov.

The operation of this system was the high point of religious persecution in the last 150 years of the tsarist regime: it dissolved the Old Believers’ religious gatherings, denied them civil rights, and repressed their leading figures as state criminals. It also constituted an extraordinary experiment in government, instituted to deal with a temporary emergency. Paradoxically the architects of this system were not churchmen or reactionaries, but representatives of the most progressive factions of Nicholas’s bureaucracy. Their abandonment of religious toleration on grounds of political intolerability reflected their nationalist concerns for the future development of a rapidly changing Russia. The system lasted only until Nicholas’s death in 1855; however, the story of its origins, operation, and collapse, told for the first time in this study, throws new light on the religious and political identity of the autocratic regime and on the complexity of the problems it faced.

Motadel, “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War”

In November, Harvard University Press released “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War” by David Motadel (University of Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

In the most crucial phase of the Second World War, German troops, fighting in regions as far apart as the Sahara and the Caucasus, confronted the Allies across lands largely populated by Muslims. Nazi officials saw Islam as a powerful force with the same enemies as Germany: the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Jews. Islam and Nazi Germany’s War is the first comprehensive account of Berlin’s remarkably ambitious attempts to build an alliance with the Islamic world.

Drawing on archival research in three continents, David Motadel explains how German officials tried to promote the Third Reich as a patron of Islam. He explores Berlin’s policies and propaganda in the Muslim war zones, and the extensive work that authorities undertook for the recruitment, spiritual care, and ideological indoctrination of tens of thousands of Muslim volunteers who fought in the Wehrmacht and the SS.

Islam and Nazi Germany’s War reveals how German troops on the ground in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Eastern front engaged with diverse Muslim populations, including Muslim Roma and Jewish converts to Islam. Combining measured argument with a masterly handling of detail, it illuminates the profound impact of the Second World War on Muslims around the world and provides a new understanding of the politics of religion in the bloodiest conflict of the twentieth century.

 

Fried, “The Middle Ages” (Lewis trans.)

Out this month from Harvard University Press is a new English translation of The Middle Agesthe eminent German medievalist Johannes Fried’s monumental work, The Middle Ages. The publisher’s description follows.

Since the fifteenth century, when humanist writers began to speak of a “middle” period in history linking their time to the ancient world, the nature of the Middle Ages has been widely debated. Across the millennium from 500 to 1500, distinguished historian Johannes Fried describes a dynamic confluence of political, social, religious, economic, and scientific developments that draws a guiding thread through the era: the growth of a culture of reason.

Beginning with the rise of the Franks, Fried uses individuals to introduce key themes, bringing to life those who have too often been reduced to abstractions of the medieval “monk” or “knight.” Milestones encountered in this thousand-year traversal include Europe’s political, cultural, and religious renovation under Charlemagne; the Holy Roman Empire under Charles IV, whose court in Prague was patron to crowning cultural achievements; and the series of conflicts between England and France that made up the Hundred Years’ War and gave to history the enduringly fascinating Joan of Arc. Broader political and intellectual currents are examined, from the authority of the papacy and impact of the Great Schism, to new theories of monarchy and jurisprudence, to the rise of scholarship and science.

The Middle Ages is full of people encountering the unfamiliar, grappling with new ideas, redefining power, and interacting with different societies. Fried gives readers an era of innovation and turbulence, of continuities and discontinuities, but one above all characterized by the vibrant expansion of knowledge and an understanding of the growing complexity of the world.

Skinner & Gelderen, Freedom and the Construction of Europe

Freedom and EuropeThis month Cambridge University Press published Freedom and the Construction of Europe edited by Quentin Skinner (University of London) and Martin van Gelderen (European University Institute).  The publisher’s description follows.

Freedom, today perceived simply as a human right, was a continually contested idea in the early modern period. In Freedom and the Construction of Europe an international group of scholars explore the richness, diversity and complexity of thinking about freedom in the shaping of modernity. Volume 1 examines debates about religious and constitutional liberties, as well as exploring the tensions between free will and divine omnipotence across a continent of proliferating religious denominations. Volume 2 considers free persons and free states, examining differing views about freedom of thought and action and their relations to conceptions of citizenship. Debates about freedom have been fundamental to the construction of modern Europe, but represent a part of our intellectual heritage that is rarely examined in depth. These volumes provide materials for thinking in fresh ways not merely about the concept of freedom, but how it has come to be understood in our own time.

Şahin, The Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman

Empire and PowerNext month Cambridge University Press will publish Empire and Power in the Reign of Süleyman: Narrating the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman World by Kaya Şahin (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows.

Kaya Şahin’s book offers a revisionist reading of Ottoman history during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566). By examining the life and works of a bureaucrat, Celalzade Mustafa, Şahin moves beyond traditional, teleological approaches and argues that the empire was built as part of the Eurasian momentum of empire building, and demonstrates the imperial vision of sixteenth-century Ottomans. This unique study shows that, in contrast with many Eurocentric views, the Ottomans were active players in European politics, with an imperial culture in direct competition with that of the Habsburgs and the Safavids. Indeed, this book explains Ottoman empire building with reference to the larger Eurasian context, from Tudor England to Mughal India, contextualizing such issues as state formation, imperial policy, and empire building in the period more generally. Şahin’s work also devotes significant attention to the often-ignored religious dimension of the Ottoman-Safavid struggle, showing how the rivalry redefined Sunni and Shiite Islam, laying the foundations for today’s religious tensions.

Schaeffer, Kapstein, and Tuttle, Sources of Tibetan Tradition

Sources of Tibetan TraditionThis month Columbia University Press will publish Sources of Tibetan Tradition edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer (University of Virginia), Matthew T. Kapstein (University of Chicago), and Gray Tuttle (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows.

 The most comprehensive collection of Tibetan works in a Western language, this volume illuminates the complex historical, intellectual, and social development of Tibetan civilization from its earliest beginnings to the modern period. Including more than 180 representative writings, Sources of Tibetan Tradition spans Tibet’s vast geography and long history, presenting for the first time a diversity of works by religious and political leaders; scholastic philosophers and contemplative hermits; monks and nuns; poets and artists; and aristocrats and commoners. The selected readings reflect the profound role of Buddhist sources in shaping Tibetan culture while illustrating other major areas of knowledge. Thematically varied, they address history and historiography; political and social theory; law; medicine; divination; rhetoric; aesthetic theory; narrative; travel and geography; folksong; and philosophical and religious learning, all in relation to the unique trajectories of Tibetan civil and scholarly discourse. The editors begin each chapter with a survey of broader social and cultural contexts and introduce each translated text with a concise explanation. Concluding with writings that extend into the early twentieth century, this volume offers an expansive encounter with Tibet’s exceptional intellectual heritage.

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