Joining the Conversation on the Politics of Religious Freedom at PluRel

This week I had the good fortune to be invited to respond to an exchange between Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (Northwestern University) and Ed Brown (Stefanus Alliance International) hosted at the Norwegian PluRel blog. Hurd and Brown offered two very different takes on a meeting held in Oslo last month at which signatories representing several different nations signed a charter upholding their commitment to protecting religious freedom.

I like freedom, but like Hurd I’m skeptical about whether the type of freedom these meetings and charters claim to protect is as universal as it seems. My post was an attempt to think through some of the issues in a way that acknowledged the tensions between the aims of rights campaigners and those of academic gadflies.

Thanks to Helge Årsheim for the invitation to contribute, and for finding some very cool images to go along with my post.

The PluRel contribution is actually a sort of continuation of a conversation I’ve been having with Hurd about the politics of religious freedom. Her work has been a big inspiration for my current project, so it was a real treat to have her respond to a book chapter draft at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion last month. Another highlight of that panel session was hearing about the research of fellow panelists Anne Blankenship and Cara Burnidge, with lots of opportunities for panel chair Emily Anderson to chime in with thoughts about her recent book.

AAR also provided a chance to share a very short talk about a side project on the Tokyo temple Ryōhoji thanks to a last-minute invitation to fill in on the Buddhism and capitalism panel. It was great to meet a group of other young scholars working on this very fascinating topic.