Sociology Department Colloquium Series
Blumer Room - 402 Social Sciences Building
MONDAYS, 2:00 - 3:30 PM
[unless otherwise noted]

Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
The rise of religious sectarianism in the Middle East is often met with calls for the institutionalization of religious liberty as a means of ensuring that non-Muslim minorities can practice their religion freely without state intervention and social coercion. Conventional wisdom has it that religious liberty is a universally valid secular-liberal principle whose proper implementation continues to be thwarted by intransigent forces in society (such as illiberal governments, religious fundamentalists, and traditional norms).This talk challenges such an account by showing that religious liberty is not simply a neutral principle for accommodating religious difference but, as a key mechanism of modern statecraft, also defines and constitutes differences at the heart of the identity of religious minorities and majorities alike.Taking the Coptic Orthodox Christian community of Egypt as a test case, this talk asks/how/ the national and international regulation and protection of religious freedom in the Middle East has made specific imaginaries of freedom and unfreedom possible for the religious minority and majority populations of Egypt. Saba Mahmood Bio: