Before arriving to Argentina, I was warned that I was going to face a culture of machismo, one where traditional gender stereotypes are perpetuated and women are deemed inferior. However, I have found that the reality does not match my preconceived notions after several months of living here.
The Misericordia di Firenze, Italy’s first volunteer ambulance service, is said to have begun in the thirteenth century. As the story goes, groups of porters who delivered goods for Florentine merchants began answering calls to transport the sick and injured in wicker stretchers for free, between jobs. It was a time of religious awakening in Italy; before long, associations of volunteer rescuers began to appear in other regions, and an extensive network of Misericordia was born.
I have never conducted research on religion before. Even though religion is a very important part of my life, I had always seen it as something personal and almost too sacred to explore from an academic point of view. That has changed since coming to Georgetown, where students are allowed and often encouraged to engage with both faith and academics: there is a two-course theology requirement for all students, a myriad of faith-based organizations and traditions on campus, and two on-campus centers that research intersections of faith and scholarship, namely, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
A host of recent controversies—including the resignation of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO, Abercrombie and Fitch’s firing of a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab, and many others—raise basic questions about the nature and extent of employees’ religious rights while on the job. Responses to this topic will answer the following questions: How would you describe religious rights on the job? Should businesses be able to fire employees for their peaceful religious views and practices or is this a violation of First Amendment rights, or those rights established under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
My favorite definition of Judaism was formulated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan in the twentieth century. Rabbi Kaplan referred to Judaism as the “evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.”
Jordanians define verbal sexual harassment in the same way that Americans do: any comments or verbal noises made to someone because of his or her gender which include joking, questioning, making suggestive remarks, teasing, and catcalling, among other things. In America, harassment is illegal and is looked down upon socially. In Jordan, however, verbal sexual harassment is an accepted part of life, and few men or women actively try to combat it on a day-to-day basis.
November 19 is World Toilet Day: a day established last year by no less than the United Nations General Assembly. It is marked because there are few topics that are as tightly linked to human welfare and human dignity as sanitation. Poor sanitation spreads disease. Women creep out at night out of modesty and risk assault and death. The filth of flying toilets (people deposit waste in plastic bags and let fly) is a reminder of a grim face of poverty.
The Hindu culture is shaped by the countless stories in our mythologies. These stories illustrate human existence and emphasize good overcoming ignorance (evil). The deities are sacred characters who personify values and bring difficult concepts to life.
In the almost four months I have spent in Chile, I have had a lot of exposure to the country’s education system. Since I directly matriculated into the local university, Pontificia Católica Universidad de Chile, it has become my main source of information on what education in Chile looks like. I also volunteer at an all-girls high school, which has proven to be very eye-opening as well.
While religious freedom is an obvious concern in parts of the world like the Middle East, it also faces challenges in the West, including in the European Union. This ongoing series of posts will explore the changing contours of religious freedom in Europe and will also discuss how European leaders are (or aren't) using religious freedom policy as a foreign policy tool.