April, 2019 

Events |  The Creative Repercussions of Counterculture  |  Subjunctive Explorations - Fictive Sufi Tales of Early Modern Bengal  |  Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan  |  Toleration in Comparative Perspective - After Christchurch  |  "Doing" Political Theology Today: Promises and Pitfalls

Featured | Grad Spotlight: Grace Goudiss
The Creative Repercussions of Counterculture
The Berkeley Seminars in Art and Religion
April 3, 5:30-7 pm 
April 3, 5:30-7 pm
220 Stephens Hall

Haroon Mirza, Artist

Haroon Mirza will examine how ideas seeded in the counterculture movement of the 1960s are now solidifying in contemporary culture and the influence that has had on his work. A London-based artist with a diverse multimedia practice, Mirza will touch on subjects that resonate with his broad interest in the creative history of the Bay Area including computing and AI, psychedelics research, pacifism, anti-capitalism, human rights, and spirituality.

Haroon Mirza has won international acclaim for installations that test the interplay and friction between sound and light waves and electric current. He devises kinetic sculptures, performances and immersive installations, such as The National Apavillion of Then and Now (2011) – an anechoic chamber with a circle of light that grows brighter in response to increasing drone, and completely dark when there is silence. An advocate of interference (in the sense of electro-acoustic or radio disruption), he creates situations that purposefully cross wires. He describes his role as a composer, manipulating electricity, a live, invisible and volatile phenomenon, to make it dance to a different tune and calling on instruments as varied as household electronics, vinyl and turntables, LEDs, furniture, video footage, and existing artworks to behave differently. Read more

Tony Stewart | Subjunctive Explorations - Fictive Sufi Tales of Early Modern Bengal: The 2nd ISAS-VSB Lecture on Religion in the Modern World

Moderator: Robert Goldman, Professor of Sanskrit and Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor in South & Southeast Asian Studies 

April 5, 5-7 pm 
10 Stephens Hall (ISAS Conf. Room)
Co-sponsored Event

Tony Stewart is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Humanities and Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is a specialist in the religions and l
iteratures of the Bengali-speaking world. His work on Vaisnava traditions of Hindu Bengal was titled The Final Word: the Caitanya Caritamrta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition (Oxford 2010), a study of the hagiographies of the Bengali god-man Krsna Caitanya. He translated the Bengali and Sanskrit text of the Caitanya Caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja with Edward C. Dimock (Harvard Oriental Series 1999) and translated Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Vaisnava poetry with Chase Twichell, titled The Lover of God (Copper Canyon 2004). Fabulous Females and Peerless Pirs (Oxford 2004) laid the foundations for his current monograph, Witness to Marvels: Sufism and Literary Imagination (Berkeley: University of California Press, forthcoming), a study that addresses the cultural work of folk literatures. Dr. Stewart's current and ongoing projects include an anthology of translated tales, tentatively titled The Needle at the Bottom of the Sea: Five Miracle Tales of Bengali Sufi Saints and a multivolume translation of the medieval epic Candi Mangal of Kavikankan for the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard). 

Dr. Stewart received his A.M and Ph.D. in South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago.
Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan

April 9, 5-7 pm
10 Stephens Hall (ISAS Conf. Room)

Co-sponsored Event

Sociologist Sadia Saeed will talk about her new book, Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan, an examination of how the contentious relationship between Islam, nationalism, and rights of religious minorities has been debated and institutionalized in colonial India and Pakistan.

The movement away from secularist practices and toward political Islam is a prominent trend across Muslim polities. Yet this shift remains under-theorized. Why do modern Muslim polities adopt policies that explicitly cater to religious sensibilities? How are these encoded in law and with what effects? Sadia Saeed addresses these questions through examining shifts in Pakistan's official state policies toward the rights of religious minorities, in particular, the controversial Ahmadiyya community. Looking closely at the 'Ahmadi question', Saeed develops a framework for conceptualizing and explaining modern desecularization processes that emphasize the critical role of nation-state formation, political majoritarianism, and struggles between 'secularist' and 'religious' ideologues in evolving political and legal fields. The book demonstrates that desecularization entails instituting new understandings of religion through processes and justifications that are quintessentially modern.

Conversation - Seminar with Vicki Spencer: Toleration in Comparative Perspective - After Christchurch

April 16, 5-7 pm 
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Co-sponsored Event

The idea that toleration is a uniquely modern Western concept based on liberal foundations has been increasingly challenged in recent times. The authors in Toleration in Comparative Perspective test the veracity of this assumption by examining approaches to cultural and religious diversity in various intellectual traditions in Asia and the West. 

Toleration in modern Western thought is understood as principled non-interference in the practices and beliefs of others that one disapproves of or, at least, dislikes. While this concept is not always easily translated into other traditions, the seminar will illuminate various intersections between Western and non-Western traditions by exploring points of commonality and difference. 

What appears to emerge is a family of resemblances in approaches to religious and cultural diversity which bear a remarkable similarity to the Western concept, while others provide models for positive engagement with diversity in both Asia and the West. 

"Doing" Political Theology Today: Promises and Pitfalls
Berkeley Public Theology Program

April 25, 5-7 pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Lecture details forthcoming.

Ruth Marshall, Associate Professor, Study of Religion and Political Science, University of Toronto

Ruth Marshall received her DPhil in Politics from Oxford University, and joined both the Department for the Study of Religion and Political Science in 2008, after having spent 8 years living and researching in West Africa. She is the author of Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria (U. Chicago Press, 2009) and numerous scholarly articles on the study of the political implications of Pentecostalism and postcolonial politics in West Africa. Her research and teaching are interdisciplinary, drawing on critical theory, political science, political philosophy, study of religion, anthropology, African and postcolonial studies. In 2013-14 she was a Faculty Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute.

Grad Spotlight: Grace Goudiss

An ongoing series on current and recent Berkeley graduate students working on religion.

My project tentatively titled “California Converts: the ‘Cult Scare’ and American Politics, 1965-1988,” focuses on the intersection of religion, race, politics, social movements, and counterculture in California and the US. My main goal is to construct a new narrative about religious politics that centers New Religious Movements (NRMs), more commonly known as “cults.” I’m interested in stories that directly contradict the scholarly and media-driven stereotype of cults as insular and on the fringe of mainstream society. More specifically, I write about the Peoples Temple and the Unification Church—as well as their powerful allies and foes. My dissertation demonstrates that far from operating merely on the margins, these movements were ensconced in and had influence over the political and historical moment in which they were produced and existed. Read more
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