from 15 to 17 April, 2013

Varieties of secularism and anti-secularism

This is a course designed for PhD students working on theses about religion in the modern world in the broadest sense orgnised by centre franco-norvegien en sciences sociales et humaines.

The aim of the course will be to give candidates analytic tools to study important varieties of secularism current in the modern world and some important varieties of anti-secularism. The main parts of the course will be devoted to the conflict, or the interactions, between religion and various ideologies and policies of secularism. We will look at specific varieties of secularism as they have been formulated and practiced in states like France, India, Turkey, the UK and Scandinavia and we will pay particular attention to important trends or processes that seem to question or challenge these varities of secularism, like re-enchantment, fundamentalism and legal pluralism.

By “secularism” here we mean, very broadly, a culture and/or a political ideal that excludes religion from some or all areas or aspects of public life. Secularism in its strong forms has resulted in suppression of religion and some members of minority cultures view secularism as euphemisms for continued hegemony of dominant religious traditions, like Lutheran state churches in Scandinavia or Hinduism in India. Although many of our most important case studies will be taken from Europe we want to keep a global perspective on the processes and policies of secularism and anti-secularism, not least because several of our PhD-students will be working on non-Western cultures. José Casanova recently pointed to Western-centrism as the greatest shortcoming in his own previous research, and we might add, in the general debate about secularism. Secularism is emerging as a very important research focus in parts of the humanities and social sciences and major research projects have neglected societies outside Europe and North America, although there are important exceptions, especially studies by South Asian scholars.

Our discussion of secularism will also address the intensification of consciousness about the global religious environment as a whole incorporating diverse religious groups with distinct identities and clear boundaries. We take our cue here from research on globalization that emphasizes consciousness rather than material change, like Roland Robertson’s focus on globalization not only as compression of time and space but also as “the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole.” By investigating varieties of secularism as well as processes of re-enchantment, fundamentalism and religious groups’ activism in support of pluralism in the legal sphere we want to offer the participants analytic tools that will make them better equipped to investigate the roles of religion in the modern world in the course of their own research.

Lecturers at the course are Prof Jean Baubérot, Prof Bjarne Rogan, Prof Michel Wieviorka, Prof Prakash Shah, Prof Ingvild Gilhus, Prof Lisbeth Mikaelsson and Dr Rosemarie van der Bremer.


Monday 15 April - FMSH, Salle B

10.00-10.30 : Introduction and practical information
Director Prof Bjarne Rogan
10.30-10.45 : Short introduction to the workshop
Prof Ingvild Gilhus
10.45-11.45 : Lecture: Secularism, secularization and re-enchantment
Profs Lisbeth Mikaelsson and Ingvild Gilhus
12.00-13.00 : Plenary discussion of re-enchantment and other reactions to secularism and secularization
Profs Lisbeth Mikaelsson and Ingvild Gilhus 14.00-14.45 : Laícité – the French way
Prof. Michel Wieviorka
15.00-16.30 : Student presentation and discussion
Andreas Snildal and Lars Tore Flåthen
16.30-18.00 : Student presentation and discussion
Vebjørn Hofsfjord and Moumita Sen

Tuesday 16 April - FMSH, Salle 1

09.00-10.00 : Lecture: Secularism in comparative perspective - the case of graveyards and burial
Dr. Rosemarie van der Bremer
10.00-10.45 : Plenary discussion of key concepts and texts about secularism
Dr. Rosemarie van der Bremer
11.00-12.00 : Lecture: Secularism and French public institutions - the case of museums
Prof. Bjarne Rogan
13.00-13.45 Student presentation and discussion
Margrete Løøv and Knut Melvær
14.00-15.30    Lecture : Changing French secularism: History and current changes
Prof. Jean Baubérot
15.30-17.00 : Student presentation and discussion
Aike Peter Rots and Valeria Gazizova

Wednesday 17 April - FMSH, Salle 1

09.45-11.00 : Secularism and legal pluralism
Professor Prakash Shah
11.00-12.00 : Plenary discussion of the legal aspects of secularism and religious law
Professor Prakash Shah
12.00-12.30 : Final discussion/end of workshop


Venue : Building Le France
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