Posts Tagged ‘India’


Nile Green on Islam in Bombay and Beyond

We celebrate our 300th episode by going back in time to look at how industrialization and globalization affected the Islamic religious landscape of Bombay, India, and what effect those changes had on a larger geography and period of time. Prof. Nile Green, a historian at UCLA, joins us to take us on this interesting journey. Instead of seeing modernization leading to a standardized and “Protestant” form of Islamic faith (as Max Weber might predict), Nile argues that the laissez faire approach of the British towards non-Christian religions combined with Christian missionaries resulted in numerous forms of Islam, from “reformist” to “customary.” He notes how this “religious economies” approach also explains the expansion of Islam into places such as Japan and the United States.

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Eleanor Power on Rituals, Community, and Signaling

Why would anyone walk across hot coals, pierce themselves with sharp objects, or engage in other costly sacrifices when their resources are meager? Using data collected from two years of fieldwork in India, Dr. Eleanor Power of the Santa Fe Institute explains how individuals signal their credibility, trustworthiness, and helpfulness in their communities via these public rituals. Elly also explains how this ritualistic behavior is perceived by others in the community and how it connects various individuals. Along the way, we also talk about possession, not in terms of ownership but wherein your body is taken over by demons or gods.

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Daniel Philpott on Defending Religious Freedom

Prof. Daniel Philpott, professor of political science and peace studies at Notre Dame, makes the case for why it is important to defend and promote religious liberty around the world. He reviews some common critiques regarding the promotion of religious liberty and then discusses why religious freedom is a universal human right and how best to ensure it flourishes globally.

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Ron Hassner on Religion in the Military

How do armed forces around the world accommodate religious beliefs and practices into the rigorous structure that is often required for combat operations? Prof. Ron Hassner of UC-Berkeley surveys a number of the critical areas where the management of belief and practice can become difficult for military commanders. We discuss cases in the United States, India, Israel, Japan, Canada, and Iran.

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Proselytism, Humanitarianism, and Development: A Panel Discussion

We return once again to the Religious Freedom Project for a panel discussion on the historical dimensions of proselytism, humanitarianism, and development that was conducted on March 4, 2015 at Georgetown University. The panel includes Thomas Farr (moderator), Michael Barnett (George Washington University), Rebecca Shah (Religious Freedom Project), and Robert Woodberry (scholar-at-large).

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Rajdeep Singh on American Sikhs and Religious Liberty

What is the Sikh religion and how have Sikhs fit into American society? Rajdeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition explains the history, tenets, rituals, and practices of his faith, as well as the challenges this religious minority has faced in the United States. We discuss how Sikhs have been instrumental in championing religious liberty with cases about religious garb in Oregon and issues of occupational safety.

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Religious Liberty & Economic Prosperity: A Panel Discussion

On October 10, 2013, a distinguished panel of scholars gathered at Georgetown University to discuss the relationship between religious liberty and economic prosperity. Sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and moderated by Prof. William Inboden, the panelists included Ilan Alon (Rollins College), Timur Kuran (Duke), Ian Linden (Tony Blair Faith Foundation), and Rebecca Shah (Religious Freedom Project). They discuss the various causal (and sometimes non-causal) pathways wherein greater religious toleration and freedom promotes an environment conducive to entrepreneurship, immigration, and the institutional expansion of othe civil liberties.

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Rebecca Shah on Religion & the Enterprising Poor in India

Rebecca Shah of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center discusses her research on how religious belief and practice affects the economic prospects of the enterprising poor in India. We review the particular challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the poorest neighborhoods of Bangalore, the role that different types of loans play on their financial success (or lack thereof), and how their faith interacts with microfinancing to help improve their lot. The important role of tithing and rituals are highlighted.

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Timothy Shah on the Case for Religious Liberty

What case can be made for promoting religious freedom worldwide? Prof. Timothy Shah discusses the moral, political, and strategic reasons why religious liberty is a crucial human right and why it is often called “the first freedom.” He reviews the justifications for religious freedom from three different faith traditions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — as well as the ontological reasons why religion should be considered for special consideration in debates about human rights. Tony even uses the word ontology in the discussion, but don’t let that scare you off since he didn’t know what it meant until very recently and our conversation is both enlightening and extremely accessible.

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Timur Kuran on Islamic Economics

Timur Kuran (Duke University) discusses the movement known as Islamic economics, focusing on its origins, policy prescriptions, and consequences. We survey the thought of Sayyid Abul-Ala Mawdudi in the middle part of the 20th century, how his ideas spread and were institutionalized in the 1970s. Attention is paid specifically to Islamic banking, interest rates, and social welfare policies.

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