Historians have only recently turned to the study of human rights, which was long the preserve of legal academics and political scientists. Among the many topics in need of serious historical study, the relationship between human rights and religion is among the most urgent. Religious belief has often been a crucial motivator for human rights activism. Just as often, religion has been a source of grave human rights abuses. And of course religious belief and practice have themselves frequently been coded as human rights.
It is therefore high time to interrogate in a sustained, transnational and above all historically sophisticated way the relationship between human rights and religion. When and where has religion been a boon to human rights or a motivator for human rights activism? When and where has religion been a source of grave human rights violations? What role does the history of, first, religious toleration and, later, of secularization, play in the dissemination of human rights ideas? How have theological debates and concepts influence and been influenced by the discourse of human rights? Where and when has religious belief and practice itself been coded as a human right, deserving of political support and (international) legal protection?
The conference seeks to interrogate the relationship between human rights and religion in three registers: religion as a source of human rights, religion as itself a human right, and, finally, religion as a cause of human rights violations. This interrogation is intended to be historical, paying careful attention to changes over time in each of these registers, and transnational, noting regional and national variation in the nature of the relationship between religion and human rights.
Form of the Conference
The conference will bring together established scholars with younger researches. Topics might include
religious belief as a motivator for human rights activism
religion as a source of human rights violations
the intellectual history of theological debates over human rights
the global variety of religious perspectives on human rights, including those of Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Judaism etc., as well as various forms of Christianity.
religious toleration and secularism in relation to human rights
religious belief and practice as a human right
The conference will be held at Boston College from April 8 to April 10, 2011.
The conference organizers hope to cover travel and lodging expenses for all participants. It is expected that an edited volume will follow from the conference, though this will not be simply a conference proceedings, but will take the conference papers as a starting point.
Please send by e-mail a proposed paper title, brief abstract (250 words/1 page), and a short (max. 2 page) CV to Devin Pendas, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions. Please submit your proposal by August 15, 2010.
Department of History
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Phone: (617) 552-6881 Email: email@example.com
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