March 15, 2007
Conference on Religion and the Global Politics of Human Rights
Are “universal” human rights in fact an imposition of western or Christian ideas? Is democracy, the “rule of the people,” compatible with God’s law? How does religion inform – and impede – the struggle for human rights around the world? The Berkley Center conference on “Religion and the Global Politics of Human Rights” brought together leading anthropologists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists to explore questions on the ways in which religion intersects with the global human rights agendas. It breaks with the dominant “top down” approach centered on the principles found in sacred texts and authoritative theological and legal interpretations. Participants grappled with the issue “bottom up” – the interaction of human rights and religion in practice and the challenges they pose for national and international politics.
This conference, convened by Thomas Banchoff, Director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, and Robert Wuthnow, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, was the third in a series. In April 2005 Georgetown University sponsored the Conference on New Religious Pluralism and Democracy
. In March 2006, the Berkley Center hosted the inaugural Conference on the New Religious Pluralism in World Politics
. Two books based on those conferences were published with Oxford University Press and edited by Center director Thomas Banchoff: Democracy and the New Religious Pluralism
(2007) and Religious Pluralism, Globalization, and World Politics (2008)
Thursday March 15
Are Religion and Human Rights Contradictory or Complementary?
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
Friday March 16
First Conference Session: Latin America and Africa
Paul Freston, Calvin College, "Religious Pluralism, Democracy and Human Rights in Latin America"
Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Brown University, "Gender Justice and Religion in Sub-Sahara Africa"
Alfred Stepan, Columbia University, "Islam and Human Rights in Senegal: Rituals of Respect"
Tom Banchoff, Georgetown University- Discussant
Second Conference Session: Islam in Transnational Perspective
Riva Kastoryano, Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris, "The Politicization of Islam in Europe: Human Rights and the Politics of Recognition"
Yvonne Haddad, Georgetown University, "Gender Jihad: The Quest to Ground Human Rights within Islam"
Robert Hefner, Boston University, "Constitutionalism and Democratization in Islam: Latent Prejudices, Recurrent Tensions"
Paul Heck, Georgetown University- Discussant
Third Conference Session: Russia and Asia
Marjorie Balzer, Georgetown University, "Religious Communities and Rights in the Russian Federation"
Pratap Mehta, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, "Human Rights and the Ethnicisation of Religion in India"
Charles Keyes, University of Washington, "Can Non-Buddhists Have Equal Rights in Buddhist Countries?"
David Ownby, University of Montreal, "China, Religion, and Human Rights: Social Change and State Response"
Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University- Discussant
The executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993, Kenneth Roth is dedicated to investigating human rights abuses around the globe. Under his tenure the organization has grown significantly in size and focus, adding programs which focus on areas like AIDS, terrorism, and the responsibilities of multinational corporations. He has frequently published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the International Herald Tribune, and the New York Review of Books, and he appears as an expert analyst in the media. Roth has also worked as a federal prosecutor and private litigator. He holds degrees from Yale Law School and Brown University; in 2011 Roth received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) degree from Brown.
Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf is Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Abusharaf's publications include Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan: Politics and the Body in a Squatter...
Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer is Research Professor in the Center for East European and Russian Studies and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Georgetown University. Professor Balzer's research is in social theory, inter-ethnic...
Thomas Banchoff is director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and professor in the Government Department and the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. His research centers on religious and ethical issues in...
Paul Freston is CIGI chair in religion and politics in global context at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University. Freston is also Distinguished Senior...
Yvonne Haddad is Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Her fields of expertise include twentieth-century Islam; intellectual, social, and political...
Paul L. Heck, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in Georgetown University’s Department of Theology, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His scholarly interests focus on the history of skepticism in Islam, mysticism and the role...
Robert W. Hefner is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA) at Boston University, where he served as Associate Director from 1986-2009. Hefner is also a Commissioned Scholar on...
Riva Kastoryano is a research director at the Centre for International Studies and Research at the Sciences Po in Paris and is a Visiting Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York. She conducts research on religion and nation,...
Charles F. Keyes is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington (nominally retired in 2006) whose research focuses on religion and political-economic change, the sociology of Theraveda Buddhism, ethnic group relations, and...
Pratap Bhanu Mehta is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He has published in a variety of fields including political philosophy, intellectual history, society and politics in India, and...
David Ownby is Director of the Center of East Asian Studies (since 2004) and Professor of History at the University of Montreal, where he has taught since 1994. His research centers on the history of popular religion in China, the history of...
Alfred Stepan is Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion and Wallace Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia University. His current work focuses on religion and politics, and he is expanding his 2001 article...
Robert Wuthnow is Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, where as Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor of Sociology he teaches sociology of religion and cultural sociology. He is the author of numerous books and...