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The Religious Norms in the Public Sphere workshop in Florence, Italy took place from December 16 to December 17 and was co-hosted by iGov.
From the ban of minarets in Switzerland, to the question of crucifixes in public schools in Italy, to the English High Court ruling on Jewish identity in the case of admission to an orthodox Jewish high school: the sacred has emerged into secular democratic politics.
This “return to the sacred” encompasses both a re-emergence of religious norms and ideas into public sphere and, as a result of globalization, an increasing disconnect between religious norms and regional cultural markers.
In our post-9/11 world, the media has focused on ‘newly’ discovered Muslim populations in the West, often casting this religious group in ethnic terms. This has led Western governments to use problematic tools and lenses - assimilation, secularization, and multiculturalism - to deal with religious “minorities’” role in the public sphere. These are problematic because they mistake the relation of religion to culture and politics within pluralistic states.
The RPS network, anchored by U.C. - Berkeley and the Robert Schuman Center of the European University Institute (EIU), aims to shed new light on these issues by recasting the supposed tensions between Islam and the West in light of broader questions about religion’s relationship to modern politics and society. The RPS international scholarly network will analyze the call by people of all faiths for greater recognition of religious norms by governments, legislatures, and schools.
The research will have clear relevance for public policy on both sides of the Atlantic by directly addressing how political demands and religious identities can be respected while still complying with the secular principles underlying Western democratic traditions.
The RPS will work on the following issues among others:
For more information please visit: rps.berkeley.edu
UC Berkeley on May 6-7, 2011 Link to Book