The Editors

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Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer

The Social Science Research Council’s program on Religion and the Public Sphere announces Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer (February 6-7, 2015).

Read the rest of Why Prayer? A Conference on New Directions in the Study of Prayer.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

How (Not) to Be Secular

In a book out next month, James K. A. Smith offering readers in a world of secularity what the author calls a “hitchhiker’s guide to the present.”

Read the rest of How (Not) to Be Secular.
Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Reverberations is nominated for a Webby!

We are proud to announce that Reverberations, the site on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative, has been selected as one of five nominees for a Webby Award in the Religion and Spirituality Category.

Read the rest of Reverberations is nominated for a Webby!.
Friday, March 21st, 2014

The Muslim Marvel

At Religion Dispatches, TIF editorial associate Wei Zhu reviews the landmark first issue of Ms. Marvel, which features a teenaged Muslim girl from Jersey City.

Read the rest of The Muslim Marvel.
Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Theorizing religion in modern Europe

On March 7-8, 2014, Harvard University will be hosting an international conference entitled “Theorizing Religion in Modern Europe.”

Read the rest of Theorizing religion in modern Europe.
Monday, February 24th, 2014

Boundaries of Toleration

In Boundaries of Toleration, editors Alfred Stepan and Charles Taylor ask: “How can people of diverse religious, ethnic, and linguistic allegiances and identities live together without committing violence, inflicting suffering, or oppressing each other?”

Read the rest of Boundaries of Toleration.
Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The Charter of Quebec Values

On November 7th, 2013, on the heels of a heated public debate about the role of religion in public life, the government of Quebec tabled its controversial Bill 60, “Charte affirmant les valeurs de laïcité et de neutralité religieuse de l’État ainsi que d’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes et encadrant les demandes d’accommodement” (Charter affirming the values of state secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests). The legislation, introduced by Bernard Drainville, the minister for Democratic institutions and active citizenship, seeks to affirm the religious neutrality of the state, specifically by prohibiting public sector employees—including those working in hospitals, schools, daycare centers, and universities—from wearing “signes ostentatoires” [conspicuous religious symbols], examples of which include hijabs, kippas, Sikh turbans, and “large” crucifixes. The legislation also proposes to amend Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, in order to enshrine the equality of men and women as the highest human right, to which other rights (e.g. freedom of religious expression) would be subordinated.

Read the rest of The Charter of Quebec Values.
Monday, February 10th, 2014

SSRC job opening: Anxieties of democracy

The Social Science Research Council seeks a Program Officer/Director for its Anxieties of Democracy program.

Read the rest of SSRC job opening: Anxieties of democracy.
Friday, February 7th, 2014

Reverberations in the new year

A new year means new and interesting content for Reverberations, the digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative.

Read the rest of Reverberations in the new year.
Friday, January 24th, 2014

Engaging the “spiritual but not religious” vote

In an essay published at the Atlantic online, TIF editor-at-large Steven Barrie-Anthony urges politicians and pundits to pay closer attention to “spiritual but not religious” voters as a potentially influential bloc.

Read the rest of Engaging the “spiritual but not religious” vote.
Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Creative Commons and The Immanent Frame

In conjunction with the launch of its new Digital Culture Initiative, the Social Science Research Council has adopted a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License for all content published on or after January 1, 2014, on the SSRC’s public website and related SSRC sites, including The Immanent Frame and other SSRC digital forums.

Read the rest of Creative Commons and The Immanent Frame.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Reverberations of cognition and culture

A lively interdisciplinary discussion about cognition and culture has emerged from Reverberations, the new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative. The NDSP grantees share their thoughts about the study of prayer, interdisciplinary methodologies, and the nature and complexities of their research.

Read the rest of Reverberations of cognition and culture.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College

Scott Korb, who teaches at the New School and New York University, recently published a book, Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College, that describes the founding of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.

Read the rest of Light without Fire: The Making of America’s First Muslim College.
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Reflections on summer reading

As the fall semester gets underway, we have again invited a number of contributors to The Immanent Frame to reflect on what they’ve read these past few months on the broad topic of secularism, religion, and public life. We asked: What are the best books and essays you’ve come across this summer? What are you most looking forward to reading in the near future?

Read responses by Courtney Bender, James S. Bielo, Anderson Blanton, John D. Boy, Wendy Cadge, Simon During, Omri Elisha, M. Christian Green, Martin Kavka, Tanya Luhrmann, John Schmalzbauer, and Jeff Sharlet.

Read the rest of Reflections on summer reading.
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Why the West Fears Islam

Political scientist Jocelyne Cesari‘s recent book, Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies, analyzes the Muslim experience in the context of international politics.

Read the rest of Why the West Fears Islam.
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Engaging religion at the Department of State

This past week, the US Department of State announced the creation of a new office that “will focus on engagement with faith-based organizations and religious institutions around the world to strengthen US development and diplomacy and advance America’s interests and values.” Citing widespread religious persecution and violence overseas, proponents of the new office of “religious engagement” hope to further institutionalize an official US commitment to globalize religious freedom, marginalize extremism, and promote interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance. Yet this initiative also raises concerns regarding the intersection of religious freedom, religious establishment, and foreign policy.

What are the prospects for the new office, and what are the potential implications of its efforts for the politics of religious diversity, both locally and transnationally? What assumptions about “religion” underlie these efforts, and what are the implications for civil society, including organizations and associations that do not self-identify as religious?

Read the rest of Engaging religion at the Department of State.
Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives

In Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives, editor Anders Berg-Sørensen compiles works from leading scholars to provide an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the debate of religion and secularism in the public sphere.

Read the rest of Contesting Secularism: Comparative Perspectives.
Thursday, July 18th, 2013

The State Department and “religious engagement”

Three recent articles have drawn attention to plans at the U.S. Department of State to create a new “office of religious engagement.”

Read the rest of The State Department and “religious engagement”.
Monday, July 15th, 2013

The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable

In his new publication, The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable, Robert Wuthnow conducted more than two hundred interviews with people of various faiths in order to analyze how middle class Americans juggle the relationship between faith and reason.

Read the rest of The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable.
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Latest Reverberations

Reverberations, the new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative, has expanded its content as it explores prayer.

Read the rest of Latest Reverberations.
Monday, July 1st, 2013

No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education

In their recent publication, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education, Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen discuss how religion has increasingly become more intertwined with the work higher education as well as how the “religious” and “secular” are blending together.

Read the rest of No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education.
Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Ongoing Reverberations

Reverberations, the new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer (NDSP) initiative, continues to thrive two months since its launch.

Read the rest of Ongoing Reverberations.
Friday, May 10th, 2013

The Vatican Spring?

Does the election of Francis I signal a major shift in Vatican policy, structure, or doctrine? How significant is Francis’ status as an “outsider” to the Roman Curia, especially his background as a Latin American and a Jesuit? Is this status likely to position him as an agent of change within the Church, or do his theological continuities with his predecessors and the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy guarantee that any reform he initiates will be largely cosmetic?

Read responses by Michele Dillon, John L. Esposito, Jeffrey Guhin, Cecelia Lynch, James Martin, S.J., J. Michelle Molina, and Sarah Shortall.

Read the rest of The Vatican Spring?.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Opportunity at the SSRC

The Social Science Research Council seeks a Program Officer/Coordinator for its work on religion and the public sphere.

Read the rest of Opportunity at the SSRC.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Religion and the Public Sphere internship at the Social Science Research Council

The SSRC’s Religion and the Public Sphere program is currently accepting applications for a summer semester internship which would focus on its ongoing projects and digital forums.

Read the rest of Religion and the Public Sphere internship at the Social Science Research Council.
Friday, April 12th, 2013

CFP: Religious Studies 50 years after Schempp

On September 27-29, 2013, the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington will host a conference entitled “Religious Studies 50 Years after Schempp: History, Institutions, Theory.” Conference organizers have issued a call for papers.

Read the rest of CFP: Religious Studies 50 years after Schempp.
Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The Future of Religious Freedom

In The Future of Religious Freedom, editor Allen D. Hertzke assembles a diverse team of international scholars to not only determine the current status of religious freedom in the world but also understand the prospects for improvement.

Read the rest of The Future of Religious Freedom.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Introducing Reverberations

We are pleased to announce the launch of Reverberations, a new digital forum on prayer produced in conjunction with the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer initiative. Reverberations will serve as a hub for communication among participants in the New Directions in the Study of Prayer project, a platform for a broader set of academic and public engagements, and a space within which a wide range of resources and materials related to the practice of prayer will be compiled, curated, studied, and explored.

Read the rest of Introducing Reverberations.
Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs

A central source of support for the Social Science Research Council’s program on religion and the public sphere (including ongoing support for the efforts of The Immanent Frame), the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs “seeks to deepen understanding of religion as a critical but often neglected dimension of national and international policies and politics.” […]

Read the rest of Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration

In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration, editors Anna C. Korteweg and Jennifer A. Selby gather a multidisciplinary group of academics to tackle the challenge of promoting diversity while protecting religious freedom and women’s equality.

Read the rest of Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration.
Monday, November 5th, 2012

After Sandy: Presidential rhetoric and visions of solidarity

On Monday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy threatened landfall, President Obama warned reporters gathered at the White House that the storm would be a difficult one, and urged a collective, unifying response. In the wake of the storm, Obama has often shifted away from the polarized rhetoric of the campaign trail to a message reminiscent of the candidate circa 2008, employing hopeful metaphors of American unity and healed fracture.

Many scholars who initially saw in Obama the possibility of a reinvigorated prophetic civil religion have since been disappointed. Now, on the eve of the election and as the waters recede across New Jersey and New York City, we have a moment to reflect on the rhetoric and symbolism that Obama has employed during this disaster.

What, if anything, is new about the rhetoric and symbolism he is employing, and how should we understand the relationship between this rhetoric and his governing style? What does it suggest about the arc of American civil religion, about shifting and multiple visions of national solidarity, and about the election and the political climate to follow?

Read the rest of After Sandy: Presidential rhetoric and visions of solidarity.
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Five years

Five years ago this past Friday The Immanent Frame published its first essay, a short reflection on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, written by the sociologist Robert N. Bellah.

Read the rest of Five years.
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Religion and the Political Imagination

Religion and the Political Imagination is a volume, edited by Ira Katznelson and Gareth Stedman Jones, that brings together a group of historians and political scientists to take a new look at the theoretical and constitutional aspects of relations between religion and political institutions since the Enlightenment, in particular the theory of secularization that arose during this period.

Read the rest of Religion and the Political Imagination.
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Race and secularism in America

On October 26 and 27, 2012, Vincent Lloyd and Jonathon Kahn will convene a workshop at Syracuse University on “Race and Secularism in America.” From the conference website …

Read the rest of Race and secularism in America.
Monday, August 6th, 2012

Contextualising Jihadi Thought

In the recent publication, Contextualising Jihadi Thought, editors Jeevan Deol and Zaheer Kazmi compile cross-disciplinary analysis on the concept of jihadism and its impact on Middle Eastern, South Asian, and European countries.

Read the rest of Contextualising Jihadi Thought.
Monday, August 6th, 2012

Survey for The Immanent Frame

As The Immanent Frame’s five year anniversary is soon approaching, it is important to take time for reflection, and consider what we has been doing well, what needs improvement, and how we can better engage our audience.

Read the rest of Survey for The Immanent Frame.
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa

In his new publication, Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa, David Chidester explores South African indigenous religious heritage and the meaning and power of this religion in a changing South African society.

Read the rest of Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa.
Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Egyptian elections

The protests in the Middle East and North Africa, and the ensuing political changes, were intended to transcend the old military-Islamist dichotomy, which in Egypt was a legacy of the army-led Egyptian Revolution almost exactly 60 years ago. Yet following a long and contentious electoral season, Egyptians were again left with a choice between Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Ahmed Shafik, a military man and the last Prime Minister under Hosni Mubarak. Nevertheless, despite the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ heavy-handed actions and subsequent protests by Brotherhood supporters and other advocates for a civil and democratic state, Egypt has, for the first time, a democratically elected president.

To what extent do current depictions of the Egyptian situation reproduce the simplistic narrative of the “Brotherhood” versus the “Army” as the only options worth discussing? How does this binary either illuminate Egypt’s cultural, political, and religious dynamics or obscure its more complex realities?

Read the rest of Egyptian elections.
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age

In her new publication, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, Martha C. Nussbaum discusses the growing issue of intolerance and analyzes the fear that fuels this problem.

Read the rest of The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age.
Friday, June 1st, 2012

Multiculturalism in Europe

After the rise of multicultural policies in the 1980s and 1990s, the winds have shifted in Europe. Terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Norway, and, most recently, in Toulouse, have furthered the securitization of Islam across Europe, while increasing immigration (predominantly from Muslim countries) has caused societal tensions. As a result, existing ideas concerning multiculturalism, religious pluralism, and national authenticity are being challenged. Past policies of cordon sanitaire are no longer in full effect, as mainstream political parties have come to adopt some of the ideas of their populist and right-wing peers; witness outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign rhetoric against immigration and Muslims following the strong showing by right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen.

We’ve invited a small handful of scholars to comment on the increasing influence of anti-immigration and anti-Islam ideas and parties across Europe and to offer their thoughts on how best to accommodate minority claims (especially those involving Islam) in a democratic and liberal Europe.

Read the rest of Multiculturalism in Europe.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age

Columbia University Press has just released What Matters?: Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age, edited by Courtney Bender and Ann Taves.

Read the rest of What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age.
Friday, March 2nd, 2012

The naked public sphere?

In light of Rick Santorum’s recent comments on religion and the public sphere, we asked a small handful of scholars about the status of such claims regarding religion in American political life. Just how “naked” is the American public square? What is the appropriate place of religion in the public sphere?

Read responses by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Michele Dillon, John L. Esposito, John H. Evans, Philip S. Gorski, R. Marie Griffith, Cristina Lafont, Nancy Levene, Nadia Marzouki, Ebrahim Moosa, Justin Neuman, and John Schmalzbauer.

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Friday, February 24th, 2012

The contraception mandate

In what is latest in a series of conflicts between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic Church, a recent regulation announced by the Department of Health and Human Services mandating that all employers—including religiously affiliated institutions such as Catholic universities and hospitals—provide health care that covers the cost of contraception has provoked widespread outcry from religious leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, as well as from many politicians, both Republican and Democrat. President Obama has outlined a compromise whereby employees at religious organizations would be given access to free contraception directly from health insurers themselves, yet this has done little to quell criticism and ongoing debate.

We’ve invited a small handful of scholars to comment on how the debate highlights enduring and nascent issues involving claims to multiple rights made in the context of American public life.

Read the rest of The contraception mandate.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Frequencies 81/100 – 90/100

Today marks the ninetieth entry in Frequencies. In the ten most recent entries, Benjamin Zeller climbs a stairway to heaven, David Shorter looks for Indian spirit, Lynne Gerber weighs in, Christopher White bathes in the blood of William James, Susan Stinson sings a sweet song of salvation, Randy Martin dissects the debt crisis, Benjamin Anastas prospers, Shaul Magid prevaricates, Darren Grem fries chicken, and Elijah Siegler submits to the algorithm.

Read the rest of Frequencies 81/100 – 90/100.
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

New directions in the study of prayer

The Social Science Research Council has just announced the launch of a major new project and grants program entitled “New Directions in the Study of Prayer.”

Read the rest of New directions in the study of prayer.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Reflections on summer reading

As the summer months draw to a close, we’ve turned again to a handful of our contributors, asking: What are the best books and essays on religion, secularism, and public life that you’ve come across this summer? What are you most looking forward to reading in the near future?

Read responses by Richard Amesbury, Jason Bivins, Edward E. Curtis, IV, Tracy Fessenden, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, David Kyuman Kim, Cecelia Lynch, John Lardas Modern, Justin Neuman, John Schmalzbauer, and Diane Winston.

Read the rest of Reflections on summer reading.
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Forthcoming SSRC book: What Matters?

Edited by Courtney Bender and Ann Taves, and forthcoming from Columbia University Press, What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a (not so) Secular Age is the product of a collaboration between the SSRC and the School for Advanced Research.

Read the rest of Forthcoming SSRC book: What Matters?.
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Rethinking Secularism

Rethinking Secularism helps to reframe discussions of religion in the social sciences by drawing attention to the central issue of how ”the secular” is constituted and understood. It provides valuable insight into how new understandings of secularism and religion shape analytic perspectives in the social sciences, politics, and international affairs.

Read the rest of Rethinking Secularism.
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Contending Modernities

On November 18-19, dozens of scholars, religious leaders, business people, and intellectuals will gather in New York for the public launch of a new, multi-year project called “Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular.” Based on the premise that Catholic, Muslim, and secular modernities each bring distinctive resources to the task of illuminating and resolving an array of characteristically modern problems, the project will examine the dynamic co-existence and competition of these “multiple modernities”—as well as the conflicts and contentions among them—with the aim of opening “new paths for constructive engagement between and among religion and secular people and institutions.”

In anticipation of the launch of this new project, we asked a distinguished group of scholars: What is gained by framing research on religion, secularity, and modernity in terms of “multiple” or “contending” modernities, and what “new paths for constructive engagement” might such a frame afford?

Read the rest of Contending Modernities.
Friday, November 5th, 2010

Religion and the midterm elections

Set against a backdrop of continued economic distress, the emerging Tea Party movement, and mercurial public opinion of President Obama, many observers correctly predicted that this month’s elections would effect a reconfiguration of partisan power in Congress and among the governorships.

What role did religious discourse—both civil and uncivil—play in the public conversations leading up to the elections, and what light does this shed on the ways that religion is currently shaping contemporary political culture in the U.S.?

Read responses from: Richard Amesbury, Jason Bivins, J. Kameron Carter, Ernesto Cortes, Jr., John L. Jackson, Jr., David Kyuman Kim, Ebrahim Moosa, John Schmalzbauer, Jeffrey Stout, and Emilie Townes.

This post has been updated to include a contribution from Rabbi Michael Lerner.—ed.

Read the rest of Religion and the midterm elections.