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March 2018
News and Events

EVENTS
  • March 1 | Leaving Religion and Losing Culture: Secular Conversion among Hispanic Freethinkers, Black Atheists, and Ex-Muslims | Joseph Blankholm
  • March 8 | The "Protestant" Impulse in Modern Islamic Thought | Teena Purohit
  • March 9-10 | Theology and Its Publics | Multiday Workshop
  • March 12 |  Berkeley Lecture on Religious Tolerance: Are Atheists Tolerable? American Nonbelievers and Irreligious Freedom | Leigh Eric Schmidt
  • March 13 | The Princess and the Prayer Scroll | Leslie Brubaker
  • March 15 | Pantheist Monstrosities: On Race, Gender, Divinity, and Dirt | Mary-Jane Rubenstein
  • March 16-17 | The Late (Wild) Augustine | Multiday Workshop
  • March 16-17 | Religion and Humanitarianism in the New Age of Nationalism | Multiday Conference
  • March 19 |  Politics of Religion in Post-Coup Turkey | Yunus Doğan Telliel
FUNDING
  • March 15 | Deadline: BCSR Graduate Student Summer Research Grants in Religion
  • March 19 | Deadline: New Directions in Theology Grants for Second-Year Graduate Students
All events are free and open to the public.
For more information, visit bcsr.berkeley.edu.
March 1 | Leaving Religion and Losing Culture: Secular Conversion among Hispanic Freethinkers, Black Atheists, and Ex-Muslims | Joseph Blankholm

Co-sponsored Event

Leaving Religion and Losing Culture: Secular Conversion among Hispanic Freethinkers, Black Atheists, and Ex-Muslims

Joseph Blankholm, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Thursday, March 1, 5-7pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


The line between religion and culture is difficult to draw. When people leave religion and become secular, they often sacrifice parts of their culture that have been tied to their religion. Relying on years of ethnographic research among avowedly secular people, Blankholm argues that becoming secular is a transformative process akin to conversion, and that secular Americans who are not white or who convert from non-Christian religions face unique challenges that lead to new forms of secularism... (more)
March 8 | The "Protestant" Impulse in Modern Islamic Thought | Teena Purohit

Co-sponsored Event

The "Protestant" Impulse in Modern Islamic Thought

Teena Purohit, Assistant Professor of Religion Studies, Boston University
Thursday, March 8, 5-7pm
10 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


The subject of this talk is Islamic modernism (1840-1940), the religio-political movement that first attempted to reconcile Islam in the modern period with western values, such as secularism, modern science, democracy, and women’s rights. This movement coincided with the dissolution of Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid empires, and the consolidation of British and French rule in India, the Middle East, and North Africa. It was at this time that Muslims began to define Islam as a religion. These productive and often antagonistic discussions about Islam as a religion were initiated by a contingent of prominent Muslim intellectuals, primarily in Egypt and India... (more)
March 9-10 | Theology and Its Publics | Multiday Workshop

Berkeley Public Theology Program

Theology and Its Publics

Friday and Saturday, March 9-10
Multi-day Workshop
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley


The workshop will compass two distinct, though often converging, lines of inquiry: first, the diverse publics to which theological discourse is addressed, and second, the theological dimensions inherent to various forms that the public and publicity can take.

The first line of inquiry begins with the recognition that the addressee of theological discourse is not only a specific person or people, but also a context of circulation, conceived as a public of readers, listeners, or viewers.
In this regard, we hope to investigate how theologies take shape within mediated contexts—linguistic, discursive, and technological—that give shape to contemporary publics. How do theologies adopt characteristics of the publics to which they are addressed? How do the conditions of address shape the form and content of the theological imagination? What theological significance comes to be assigned to a “public” more generally?

The second line of inquiry turns the question around... (more)


March 12 |  Berkeley Lecture on Religious Tolerance: Are Atheists Tolerable? American Nonbelievers and Irreligious Freedom | Leigh Eric Schmidt

Berkeley Lecture on Religious Tolerance

Are Atheists Tolerable? American Nonbelievers and Irreligious Freedom
Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis
Monday, March 12, 5-7pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


Modern constructions of religious liberty often left atheists and nonbelievers out. Long after the ratification of the First Amendment, it remained an open question whether religious freedom included irreligious freedom. Counted an intolerable danger to the commonwealth, atheists were frequently denied equal rights and liberties; several states barred them from holding offices of public trust, and their competence as witnesses was routinely questioned. The picture changed dramatically in the middle decades of the twentieth century as the principle of neutrality—that the state was to treat believers and nonbelievers with impartiality—became the constitutional norm. Yet, in scoring a series of wins at the Supreme Court level, atheist plaintiffs only looked all the more intolerable. Dwelling on the experiences of a handful of atheist objectors in this heyday of secularist activism, the lecture examines just how limited the toleration of the irreligious remained in the 1960s and 1970s—and often still remains... (more)
March 13 | The Princess and the Prayer Scroll | Leslie Brubaker

Co-sponsored Event

The Princess and the Prayer Scroll

Leslie Brubaker, Emerita Professor Byzantine Art and Director of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham
Tuesday, March 13, 5-7pm
308A Doe Library, UC Berkeley


Byzantine private prayer scrolls are rare.  Most date from the 13th or 14th centuries, and while several of them were written in gold ink only two of the preserved examples — neither of which has ever been published — contain any images.  This paper presents one of the illustrated scrolls, now held in a private collection.  It identifies the woman who owned it, considers the role of private prayer scrolls in the late Byzantine period, and examines the gender issues that this particular example raises... (more)
March 15 | Pantheist Monstrosities: On Race, Gender, Divinity, and Dirt | Mary-Jane Rubenstein

Berkeley Public Theology Program

Pantheist Monstrosities: On Race, Gender, Divinity, and Dirt

Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Professor of Religion and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Wesleyan University
Thursday, March 15, 5-7pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley


Most commonly attributed to the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, pantheism teaches that what we mean by “divinity” is the immanent, creative-destructive power of the universe itself. God, in other words, is the universe. This heretical teaching infamously led to Spinoza’s excommunication in 1656 from his Jewish community in Amsterdam. In subsequent centuries, pantheism has suffered nearly universal rejection—usually in the form of ridicule—by western philosophers and theologians. This lecture will investigate the reasons behind this often panicked repudiation, suggesting that the horror over pantheism has less to do with theological orthodoxy or philosophical rigor than with a visceral reaction to matter, which is persistently racialized and feminized in the tradition that refuses to ascribe divinity to it... (more)
March 16-17 | The Late (Wild) Augustine | Multiday Workshop

Berkeley Public Theology Program

The Late (Wild) Augustine

Friday and Saturday, March 16-17
Multiday Conference
3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley


Invited international scholars will examine the work of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa, during the later Roman Empire. Participants will assess Augustine’s positions on original sin, grace, redemption and free will as they developed over the latter part of his life. Organized by Susanna Elm, Sidney H. Ehrman Professor of European History, UC Berkeley... (more)
March 16-17 | Religion and Humanitarianism in the New Age of Nationalism | Multiday Conference

Berkeley Public Theology Program

Religion and Humanitarianism in the New Age of Nationalism

Friday and Saturday, March 16-17
Multiday Conference
Social Science Matrix, UC Berkeley


Former assistant secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck will be the keynote speaker for this conference which brings together scholars, activists, and clergy from the United States and abroad to address the following questions:
  • What is the relationship between established ecclesiastical authority and religious violence? Has the erosion of ecclesiastical authority in recent times escalated conflict and/or fueled populism?
  • In what ways has the rise of social media and other digital technologies altered the politics of faith and humanitarianism? Are we in a Gutenberg 2.0 moment... (more)

March 19 |  Politics of Religion in Post-Coup Turkey | Yunus Doğan Telliel

Co-sponsored Event

Politics of Religion in Post-Coup Turkey

Yunus Doğan Telliel, UC Berkeley Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Theology
Monday, March 19, 12:30-2pm
340 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley


While there remain many unanswered questions regarding the July 2016 coup attempt, most Turkish citizens seem to agree with the government that putschists were linked to Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement. Although the government was decisive about what some call “de-Gülenification” in state and private sectors, the possibility of a coup organized by a group of devout Muslims has puzzled many Muslims in Turkey. How could relatives, neighbors, and friends, who they knew as fellow devout Muslims, turn out to be part of a group that is responsible for this violent event?... (more)
March 15 | Application Deadline: Summer Research Grants in Religion

BCSR Graduate Student Summer Research Grants in Religion
Application Deadline: March 15, 4pm

The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) is offering summer research grants to advanced graduate students working on topics at the intersection of religion and ethics, broadly construed. The grant is supported by the Frank and Lesley Yeary Endowment for Ethics in Humanities, established to support research and scholarship in ethics. Grants range from $2,000 to $5,000, and are meant for summer research travel and related expenses. Applications are welcome from all UC Berkeley Ph.D. students who have advanced to candidacy, with preference given to those who are close to completion of their dissertations... (more)
March 19 | Application Deadline: New Directions in Theology Grants for Second-Year Graduate Students

New Directions in Theology Grants for Second-Year Graduate Students
Application Deadline: March 19, 4pm

BCSR is offering up to four grants in the amount of $5,000 each for graduate students in their second year of study in 2018-2019.* New Directions grants are provided by BCSR through the Public Theology Program, a critical three-year research initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Grantees participate in a cohort of early-career students from diverse disciplines to explore the place of theology in scholarship and public life. Theology is here meant broadly as the constellation of conceptual commitments and modes of inquiry that enable communities to investigate and understand the world in religious terms... (more)

 
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