On April 10, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, professor of political science at Northwestern University and the author of The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton 2008), spoke to a audience on the politics of religious freedom. Hurd is co-organizer of a multiyear project of the same name, funded by the Luce Foundation.
Partnership with Luce and ICRS-Yogyakarta for Project on Religion and Public Policy in Southeast Asia
With funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, CURA joined with the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia to organize the first international conference in a three year project on how states and societies are responding to religious change in eight Southeast Asian Countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The ICRS heads the project, and has brought together research teams in each of the Southeast Asian countries. CURA is coordinating the U.S.-based wing of the project, focusing on how U.S. policy analysts and think tanks perceive and respond to religious change in the Southeast Asian region. Next year’s conference will be held in Washington DC; the 2016 conference will take place in Bangkok, Thailand. This year’s conference included visits from ministers in Indonesia’s Ministry of Religion as well as the U.S. Embassy. It also featured a speech on the challenge of pluralism from the much-respected Sultan of Yogyakarta, as well as a two-hour appearance on a nationally-broadcast Indonesian talk show.
Toby Matthiesen, research fellow at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge in England joined us for a talk on the 20th of March, entitled ‘Sectarianism in the Middle East’. Matthiesen argues that gulf state regimes pit citizens against each other with the narrative of a “Shia threat”. He estimates that this is an attempt to quash demands for democratic reform and accountability. To learn more about Matthiesen’s work, check out the event information, or the speaker’s website.
Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu’s ongoing research on Catholics, Muslims, and the New Pluralist Citizenship in Southern California
Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu is a Research Fellow in the ongoing project on Catholics, Muslims, and the New Pluralist Citizenship in the U.S, Canada, Netherlands, and France. The project is sponsored by the Kroc Institute for Peace at Notre Dame University and CURA.
Ahmet has been carrying out research on inter-faith relations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties since July 2013. From March 9 through 15th, Bob Hefner visited Ahmet and met with some of the many extraordinary Muslim, Catholic, and secular leaders active in interfaith affairs in southern California.
Southern California has the largest Catholic archdiocese in the United States, and, under the leadership of Rt. Rev Archimandrite Alexei Smith, it also has one of the most remarkable and active offices for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs. The Los Angeles and Orange Counties also has one of the oldest and largest Muslim communities in the United States; its network of Muslim schools, councils, and inter-faith programs, as well as its Shura Council, are among the most dynamic in North America. Ahmet has also been active in the African American Muslim community, also among the oldest and largest in the United States.
Paul Freston, Professor and Chair of Religion and Politics in the Global Context at Wilfred Laurier University, and one of the world’s leading authorities on Latin American religions, Christian
Pentecostal and Evangelical politics. On March 3 Freston spoke to a rapt audience on the impact of Pentecostals on Brazilian politics, suggesting that Pentecostal influence may well have peaked.
A renowned cultural psychologist, anthropologist of religion, and New York Times op-ed author, Tanya M. Luhrmann of Stanford University visited CURA on February 12 to present the third annual Peter L. Berger Lecture in the Sociology and Anthropology of Religion. The event is sponsored by the School of Theology, the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity and Mission, and CURA. Luhrmann’s talk built on the topic of her best selling book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (Knopf 2012), examining the cultural and psychological logic of the American turn toward a deeply personalized and loving God. The presentation was followed by a lively question-and-answer period and reception.
On January 31, Bob Hefner, CURA Director, and Bernie Ardeney-Risakotta, CURA Visiting Scholar, traveled to Georgetown University to launch the first in a series of workshops and conferences to take place over the next three years on “Religion and Public Policy in Southeast Asia.” The program is funded by the Luce Foundation; the portion under the direction of Hefner and CURA represents the American wing of an eight-country project on religion and policy in the Southeast Asia Region. The larger project is being carried out under the auspices of the Institute on Culture and Religious Studies (ICRS) at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia Dr. Dicky Sofyan is the director of the larger project; Bernie Ardeney-Risakotta is the former director of the ICRS. Katherine Marshall of the Berkley Center at Georgetown University kindly hosted the Georgetown event. Other participants in this first-stage workshop included Peter Phan and Crystal Corman of Georgetown, Charles Keyes of the University of Washington Seattle, Juliane Schober of Arizona State University, and Vivienne Angeles of LaSalle University. The next conference, in Mach 2014, will take place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and will bring together teams of researchers and policy analysts from across Southeast Asia to address the question of how governments and policy makers are, and are not, engaging the far-reaching changes taking place in Southeast Asian nations.
On January 30, Daniel Philpott, Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at Notre Dame University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, spoke to a packed seminar audience on “Reconciliation in Politics: How Religion is Reshaping the Global Conversation about Justice. “ The presentation was lively, touching on issues raised in Dan’s much-acclaimed 2012 book, Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation. Both the book and Dan’s talk compare the relative merits of secular and religious discourses in promoting reconciliation and a sustainable “operating consensus” in the aftermath of civil war, genocide, and political authoritarianism.
On December 14, 2013, Marthen Tahun, Zainal Abidin Bagir, and Bob Hefner presented a paper on Islam, Christianity, and Religious Freedom in Indonesia. The presentation was part of Georgetown University’s international conference on religious freedom, under the direction of Dr. Thomas Farr and Dr. Timothy S. Shah. Participants from the conference had the pleasure of a private audience with Pope Francis, who greeted the group with his trademark mix of warmth and wit.
On December 6 James Hoesterey, Assistant Professor in the department of religious studies at Emory University, visited CURA and gave a fascinating talk on ‘Shaming the State: Subjectivity and Islamic Ethics in Indonesia’s Playboy Debate’.