Participation in the Conference on ‘The Governance of Religious Diversity, More or Less Secularism?’

10-12 June 2015

Sala Europa, Villa Schifanoia

The European University Institute conference entitled ‘The Governance of Religious Diversity More or Less Secularism?’ examined four main research questions: Is the best way to deal with religious diversity to accept more religion in public life for both majorities and minorities or to move towards radical secularism? Is there a principled, normative answer to this question or is it a matter of context and issues at hand? Thus, under some conditions more religion is desirable and in others more secularism must apply and our decisions shall be framed differently depending on whether we discuss gender relations or blasphemy/freedom of expression laws? What can we learn from policies and practices in the Middle East and Asia where religious plurality has for long periods been the norm rather than the exception? Since religion can neither be wholly privatised nor allowed to dominate political life, what are the best ways of accommodating it in a democratic society? What are the “battlefields” of religious diversity in the years to come?

Principle Investigator Effie Fokas participated in the roundtable discussion on ‘Identifying Battlefields for the Next Decade’.

For more information about this conference, please see here.

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Presentation at the International Conference on ‘Political Orthodoxy and Totalitarianism in a post-Communist Era’

28-31 May 2015

Cultural Center Sofia, Helsinki

This conference, organized by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in cooperation with the Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University (New York, USA); the Chair of Orthodox Theology, Münster University (Germany); the Romanian Institute for Inter-Orthodox, Inter-Confessional and Inter-Religious Studies (INTER, Cluj-Napoca, Romania); the St Andrews Biblical Theological Institute (Moscow); the Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity (Belgrade, Serbia); the Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy (Stockholm, Sweden); and the European Forum of the Orthodox Schools of Theology (EFOST, Brussels), considered issues related to totalitarianism, the demand for freedom and democracy, the concept and the reality of “Political Orthodoxy,” and the current position of the Orthodox Church within the context of the post-communist era, with the main, but not exclusive, focus on Eastern and Central Europe. Among the issues addressed were the relationship between Orthodoxy and Democracy, Orthodoxy and human rights, Orthodoxy and political liberalism, secularism, theological education, religious, national, and cultural pluralism and the challenges that these diverse realities pose to the Orthodox Church and its theological discourse concerning its self- understanding.

Principle Investigator Effie Fokas presented a paper on ‘The Challenge of Pluralism in Orthodoxy’.

Please find the Conference Programme here.

For further information about this Conference please see here.

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Grassrootsmobilise Public Event and ‘Preparation for the Field’ Meeting




Megaron Mousikis & Electra Hotel, Athens, Greece

Organiser: ELIAMEP

In January 2015, Eliamep hosted the team members, the post-doctoral researchers and the distinguished members of the advisory board for the second meeting of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme, in Athens. The meeting started was preceded by a public lecture on 08/01/2015 on ‘Religion, National Identity and Human Rights’, by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt; Nikos Alivizatos, Eva Brems and Malcolm Evans responded to his intervention. Effie Fokas, the Principal Investigator of the Grassrootsmobilise Research Programme chaired the lecture and the discussion.

For the video of the public lecture, please see:

On 9 and 10 January, the programme members met at Electra Hotel to discuss the developments of the Programme and the research conducted thus far and to help prepare the newly-hired postdoctoral researchers for their research in the field.

Please find the Programme of the Meeting here.


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Presentation at the workshop of the European University Institute: ‘Judging Faiths: Religious Freedom at the Bar in U.S. and European Courts’


Conference Room, Villa La Fonte  via delle Fontanelle, 18 – San Domenico di Fiesole

23-24 October 2014

Organisers:  Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies/European University Institute

This workshop aimed to bring together a group of distinguished judges, scholars and advocates to discuss the tensions between faith-based practices and secular ideals in courts. These insights included: how, despite very different institutional frameworks, the similar ways US and European Courts make room for local variation through a jurisprudence of avoidance; the ways that American style (and often American-backed) litigation activists are transforming what has been a European group-based conception of religious freedom into an individualistic conception; and common strategies through which litigants translate matters of faith into the interests protected by law.

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Presentation at the Law and Religion Symposium 2014: ‘Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law’

Law and Religion Symposium 2014: ‘Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law’ 5-7 October 2014

Provo, Utah, USA

Organiser: International Centre for Law and Religion Studies

The 21st annual International Law and Religion Symposium, took place at Brigham Young University Law School in Provo, Utah. This year 80 invited delegates, from 40 countries, addressed the theme “Varieties of Secularism, Religion, and the Law.” This year’s delegates included scholars, government officials, journalists, and religious and civic leaders from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, France, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia.

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Presentation at the Conference ‘Religious Diversity and Tolerance in Europe and Turkey’

6 June 2014

London School of Economics

Organiser: Chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies, London School of Economics

07_0625 Cont Turkish RGB

This conference brought together scholars who work on related issues regarding religious pluralism in Turkey and in different countries across Europe. The aim was to understand the larger socio-political processes and discourses that shape and define religious diversity with an emphasis on similarities and differences.

In this context, Effie presented a paper on ‘Religious Freedom versus national identity’, which developed the notion that many religious freedom limitations are strongly linked to the often banal but not always benign expressions of the relationship between religion and national identity (whether that relationship be positive, as in the Greek or Norwegian case, or negative, as in the French or Turkish cases).

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Presentation of the Grassrootsmobilise programme at the University of Uppsala

11 June 2014

Uppsala, Sweden

uppsalaOrganiser: Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University

As part of her guest lectureship this year at the Faculty of Theology of Uppsala University, Effie gave a seminar presentation on the Grassrootsmobilise programme to a group of PhD students working on the intersections between religion and law. In late September she will return to Uppsala to deliver a lecture related to the Grassrootsmobilise programme as well as to contribute to the Masters students’ research training programme.

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Grassrootsmobilise Kick-off meeting

kickoff7-8 March 2014

Athens, Greece

Organiser: ELIAMEP

In March 2014 ELIAMEP hosted the team members and the distinguished advisory board of the Grassrootsmobilise programme for the  Kick-off meeting. Here the programme members started their 5-year collaboration by contributing to the development of the theoretical framework of the research programme and collectively fine-tuning the methodology for the fieldwork to be conducted by the post-doctoral researchers in the four country cases.

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Presentation of the Grassrootsmobilise programme at the ‘International Congress on Religious Pluralism Management’

30-31 January 2014

Madrid, Casa Árabe

Organiser: Observatorio del Pluralismo Religioso en España

The Observatorio brought together at this forum representatives and leaders of State and municipal institutions, international institutions and organisations, religious denominations and national and international researchers from over 12 countries to debate on religious pluralism management from different perspectives. The main objective of this meeting was to provide public managers and policy makers a forum for the exchange of models and practices of management in an international framework.

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Presentation at the seminar on ‘Political modernity and the responses of contemporary Orthodox theology’

16-17 January 2014

Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), Vienna, Austria

Organiser: Institute for Human Sciences Vienna and the University of Vienna (Departments of Social Ethics and of Political Sciences)

This workshop brought together leading scholars in theology and the study of Orthodox Christian Churches across Europe and the United States for a highly topical discussion of the ways in which Orthodox Christianity today understands and relates to the political. In virtue of the relational triangle church-state-people, this workshop raised, amongst other questions, the following: Do Orthodox Churches conceive of this triangle in terms of the church, state and a people or in terms of church, state and persons? What is the difference between these two options and the consequences for an Orthodox political theology? How do Orthodox Churches conceive of the state and its role for human well – being? How do Orthodox Churches think about themselves, about the role and place of the church and its social function in a pluralistic society?

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