Religion, Human Rights & the Problem of Fear

Religion, Human Rights & the problem of Fear Forum

In 2007-08, our theme looked at the interplay between religion and human rights. Human rights are premised on an assertion of inherent human dignity and freedom – a premise that itself may implicitly exclude religious understandings of what constitutes being human.

With this seemingly secular basis for human rights, how do religious claims intersect with those of human rights?

How do religious traditions based in divinely-sanctioned forms of absolutism, exclusivism, or universalism meet with the universalism of human rights law and discourse – a discourse with its own particular history?

What is at stake in conflicts between human rights and religious claims, and how are fear, misinterpretation, and politics at play in such competition?


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Public Forum, April 2, 2008, 3:00-5:00 pm, Munk Centre, University of Toronto

A panel of distinguished speakers tackled these questions as they reflected on their experiences in the domain of religion and human rights.The discussion was moderated by Professor Janice Gross Stein (University of Toronto, Political Science; Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management; Director of the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto).

The speakers:

Bill BlaikieHonourable Bill Blaikie (M.P. for Elmwood-Transcona; Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons; MA, Emmanuel College)
No image availableProfessor Ramin Jahanbegloo (University of Toronto, Political Science; Research Fellow in the Centre for Ethics; Massey College Scholar-at-Risk)
Jocelyn MaclureProfessor Jocelyn Maclure (Laval University, Philosophy; Expert Analyst for Quebec's Bouchard-Taylor Commission)

[Watch the webcast]


RPS Faculty Fellows’ Workshop, April 3, 2008

The 2007-8 Fellows met with the Public Forum panelists, and presented their research on the theme of religion and human rights at a one-day workshop. Each Fellow's paper was responded to by a scholar in a related field or by a public policy expert. The workshop was open to a limited number of other U of T faculty and students by registration.

Michael Cobb, Department of English, "Mormons, Islam, Polygamy, Queers: Religious Tolerance in the United States Today"
Respondent: David Rayside, Department of Political Science and Director of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies

Valentina Napolitano, Department of Anthropology "On Catholic Inculturation and Post-colonial Indigeneity"
Respondent: Amira Mittermaier, Department and Centre for the Study of Religion/Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations

Anver Emon, Faculty of Law, "(En)Countering the Fear of Sharia: Rights reasoning and/in Islamic Law"
Respondent: Mark Berlin, National Executive Director of Outreach and Partnerships, Department of Justice, Government of Canada

Thomas E. Reynolds, Emmanuel College, "Hospitality beyond Human Rights? Human Vulnerability and the Possibility of an Ethic of Interreligious Sharing"
Respondent: Robert Gibbs, Department of Philosophy, Director of the Jackman Humanities Institute





RPS people

Project Coordinator: Siri Hansen

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