“Minority Rights and Religious Freedom” — A Keynote by Saba Mahmood

The Centre for Ethics Graduate Association and Comparative Politics Student Group Present:

A Joint Keynote Address
“Minority Rights and Religious Freedom: Itineraries of Conversion?”
Delivered by Saba Mahmood (UC Berkeley)

Saturday, 7 March 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center
569 Spadina Ave.

The rise of religious conflict in the Middle East is often met with calls for instituting the right to religious freedom and providing special protections for religious minorities. Conventional wisdom has it that these are neutral legal instruments that allow non-Muslims to practice their faith freely without state intervention and social coercion. Professor Saba Mahmood’s talk challenges this account by tracking the complex career of both these concepts in the Middle East. Taking the Coptic Orthodox Christian community of Egypt as a paradigmatic case, she shows that religious liberty and minority rights have historically reentrenched inter-religious hierarchies rather ameliorating them. In such a context, how might we rethink the promise of secular neutrality in order to imagine a future free of religious strife?

Speaker Bio:

Saba Mahmood teaches in the department of anthropology at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on questions of secularism, religious politics, and gender in the Middle East. Her forthcoming book, The Minority Condition: Religious Difference in the Secular Age, focuses on the plight of religious minorities in Egypt and the broader Middle East. She is the author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (2005), and a co-author of Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (2009).


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