Oct 072017
 October 7, 2017  Tagged with:

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics will host on March 5, 2018 a talk with Udi Greenberg, Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth College. During his presentation, Dr. Greenberg will discuss critiques of religious freedom.

Udi Greenberg is an historian of Modern European thought, especially Europe’s engagement with the wider world.  His studies and teachings have concentrated on modern European history, political institution building, and religious thought. His first book, The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2014), uncovers the intellectual, political, and institutional forces that shaped Germany’s reconstruction after World War II and the broader ideological genesis of the Cold War. By tracing the careers of influential German émigrés of diverse theoretical and political backgrounds, it claims that political ideas from Weimar Germany (1918-1933) were fundamental in molding the postwar order in Europe and the construction of American global hegemony. It was awarded the Council of European Studies’ 2016 Book Prize (for best first book in European studies published in 2014-2015). Greenberg is currently working on a second book-length project, tentatively titled From “Enemies of the Cross” to “Brethren in Faith”: Global Politics and the End of Europe’s Protestant-Catholic War, 1885-1965.

For more information, please contact Amber Diaz Pearson at amber.diaz@duke.edu

Aug 232017
 August 23, 2017  Tagged with:

Join Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics for a conversation with Jennifer Bryson and Ismail Royer, “Insights Into Extremism: Experiences from a Former Guantanamo Bay Interrogator and a Convicted Jihadist.” We will be meeting on Tuesday, January 30 at 6:00pm in Sanford 04.This discussion will be moderated by AGS Council Co-Chair Matthew King. For more information, please contact Melanie Benson (melanie.benson@duke.edu).

Sponsored by the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy, the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke Political Science and Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. 


Aug 062017
 August 6, 2017  Tagged with:

The conference will begin with a public forum on the notion of “sanctuary” itself, featuring both scholars and activists who will trace sanctuary from its medieval origins, its 19th century mobilization by the abolitionists, and its reemergence in the last 30 years. This will be followed by a daylong workshop on religious humanitarianism, urban activism, and environmentalism, which will think about the ways that sanctuary might help us to make sense of how different faith communities are mobilizing in ways that are not simply “policitcal.”

For more information, please click here.


Thursday, 8 February

“The Logic of Sanctuary: A Public Forum”

5-7 PM, Goodson Chapel, Duke University

Introduced and moderated by Elizabeth Bruenig (Washington Post)

Confirmed panelists: Thavolia Glymph (Duke, History); Diya Abdo (director of Guilford College’s Every Campus a Refuge project); Julie Peeples (Senior Pastor, Congregational UCC, Greensboro NC)

Friday, 9 February

Three panels, all held in the FHI Garage, Smith Warehouse, Duke University

9 AM: coffee and light breakfast

Panel 1, 9:30-11:30: Humanitarianism: Religion and the Body

Confirmed panelists: C. Julia Huang (Anthropology, Santa Cruz); Carla Hung (Anthropology, Duke); Emmanuel Schaueblin (Anthropology, Zurich)

Chaired by Luke Bretherton (Divinity, Duke).

11:30-12:30: lunch

Panel 2, 12:30-2:30: Civic Activism: Religion in Urban Spaces

Confirmed panelists: Beth Baron (History, Graduate Center/ CUNY); Lila Berman (History, Temple); J. Brooks Jessup (Anthro, Berkeley).

Chaired by Adam Mestyan (History, Duke).

2:30-3:00: Coffee break

Panel 3, 3:00-5:00: Environmentalism: Religion and the Land

Confirmed panelists: Catherine Flowers (FHI Practitioner in Residence); Ryan Juskus (Religious Studies, Duke); Aaron Wolf (Geography, Oregon State).

Chaired by Prasenjit Duara (History, Duke).

Closing remarks and discussion, 5:00-5:30

For more information, contact James Chappel at james.chappel@duke.edu.

Sponsored by History, African and African American Studies (AAAS), Asian Pacific Studies Institute (APSI), Center for Jewish Studies, Divinity School, Duke Chapel, Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute (DHRC@FHI), Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI), Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Nicholas School-Miscellaneous Events, and Religious Studies.

Jul 062017
 July 6, 2017

We regret that Dr. Erhard Busek’s visit has been canceled. We will post another announcement if the visit is rescheduled at another time.

Religions and Public Life Visiting Scholar Dr. Erhard Busek will visit the Duke University campus Tuesday, January 16 through the morning of Friday, January 19th. During his visit, Dr. Busek will present a public talk and meet with faculty and graduate students.

His public seminar, on current issues around religion and migration in Europe, will be on Wednesday, January 17, in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke 101). The reception will begin at 4:30PM, followed by Dr. Busek’s seminar talk, “Religion and the Future of Europe,” and Q&A and discussion. For an abstract of the talk, please see below.

Dr. Erhard Busek is a leading European and Austrian public intellectual, and one of the most committed proponents of the European idea, in both his political and intellectual career. He has served as Vice-Chancellor of the Republic of Austria,  Minister for Science and Research, Minister for Education,  Special Representative of the Austrian Government for the Enlargement of the European Union, and Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. Now, among other positions, he serves as  Chairman of the Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe in Vienna, Coordinator of the “Southeast European Cooperative Initiative,” President of the Vienna Economic Forum, and as Jean Monnet Professor ad personam.

Now, among other positions, he serves as  Chairman of the Institute for Danube Region and Central Europe in Vienna,  Coordinator of the “Southeast European Cooperative Initiative,” President of the Vienna Economic Forum and as Jean Monnet Professor ad personam.

For more information, please e-mail Deirdre White at deirdre.white@duke.edu

Reception & Seminar: Religion and the Future of Europe
Wednesday, January 17
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke 101)


Perhaps more than any other continent or civilization, contemporary Europe is secular. The majority of citizens hold neither religious belief nor practice. Ominously, cultural memories of religious heritage come up most often as arguments pitting Europe’s historical “Christian” identity against Islam, reflecting fears that growing immigration and refugee waves may indelibly reshape European identity. These fears have given rise to populist nationalism, a transnational phenomenon in integrated Europe. The growth of empathy and compassion, the emotional foundation of European identity, has not kept up with economic integration and the growth of these fears. This is the challenge the European Union faces. Despite a quarter century of political integration, the EU also suffers from internal social tensions and suspicions, mutually reinforced by religious tensions, even among the countries that launched the drive toward European unity (not to mention among the Eastern European countries that joined later).

To respond to current European fears of Muslims, better popular knowledge of Islam is crucial, as religious ignorance is staggering. Meanwhile, savvy and ruthless politicians both within and outside Europe misrepresent Islam for rhetorical and political gain. Some are nostalgic about the Cold War world, where European ideological and territorial fault lines were obvious, and the first ideas of a unified Europe emerged. But there is no escaping the new Europe, which is multicultural, multiethnic and multi-confessional. Therefore, we must think about new foundations for European unity, which call on the shared heritage of all religions present in the continent.

Jun 102017
 June 10, 2017

The Religions and Public Life Initiative at KIE co-sponsors a seminar on Sunday, December 10, at 5:00pm, with the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar. Charly Coleman (Columbia University), will give a talk, “The Economy of the Mysteries: Penance, the Eucharist, and the Proliferation of Sacramental Wealth in Early Modern France.”

Abstract: My paper takes as its point of departure the seventeenth-century resurgence in the adoration of the Eucharist and its singularly productive elements, not only in theological and philosophical treatises, but also among lay confraternities, members of which were authorized to receive specific spiritual advantages, including plenary and partial indulgences. The Cartesian position, advanced by the Oratorian Jean Terrasson among others, reinforced Eucharistic associations with boundlessness, by characterizing the metamorphoses it implied as representative of the infinite power of God. An economic logic, I argue, underpinned such practices, which furnished the believer a means of cancelling the debt occasioned by sin through the inexhaustible font of grace accumulated by the labor of saints and administered by the Church. This Catholic ethic, pace Weber’s account of its Protestant counterpart, privileged the marvelous over the mundane, consumption over production, the pleasures of enjoyment over the rigors of delayed gratification.

Charly Coleman is an assistant professor of history at Columbia University, where he teaches courses on early modern and modern Europe, as well as in the Core Curriculum. He received his Ph.D. in history at Stanford University. Before coming to Columbia, he taught at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis. Coleman specializes in the history of eighteenth-century France, with a particular emphasis on the intersections between religion and Enlightenment thought. His first book, The Virtues of Abandon (Stanford University Press, 2014; awarded the 2016 Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies), fundamentally recasts the French Enlightenment as a protracted struggle to fix the self’s relationship to property in its myriad forms. In so doing, it uncovers a wide-ranging, coherent, and influential culture of dispossession, the partisans of which fought to strip the self of its property, its personality, and even its very existence as an individual. Coleman has further elaborated the stakes of this anti-individualist history of the period in a series of articles and book chapters, including pieces for Modern Intellectual History, The Journal of Modern History, and The Cambridge Companion to the French Enlightenment. His most recent research has turned to the crucial role played by economic theology during the long eighteenth century in France, with an eye to revealing a distinctly Catholic ethic that animated the spirit of capitalism at its inception.

Sunday, December 11
National Humanities Center in RTP

Jun 012017
 June 1, 2017

Please join the North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar and Religions and Public Life at KIE for a lunch seminar on religion, politics, and governance with Guy Ben-Porat (Brown University), on Friday, December 1, at 12:15pm in Friedl 225.

Guy Ben-Porat is an associate professor at the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University and an Israel Institute Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He is the author of Between State and Synagogue, the Secularization of Contemporary Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Global Liberalism, Local Populism; Peace and Conflict in Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland (Syracuse University Press). His new book (co-written) is on police and minorities (Cambridge University Press).

Abstract: The scholarly debate of religiosity and secularism in Israel has either engaged with ideological/theological questions or with formal political processes of elections and legislation. This work offers a different perception and interpretation of secularization that looks beyond openly-declared ideological secularism and its related struggles against the Orthodox monopoly in the political arena. The disaggregation of the concept of secularization opens up the new possibilities for research of both the declining role of religion in society vis-à-vis other systems (political and economic) and the role of religion in individual lives (beliefs, practices and values). The four issues studied in the book – civil marriage, civil burial, sale of pork and commerce on the Sabbath – demonstrate dramatic changes that occurred in the last three decades. These changes, as the study demonstrates, are at most partially attributed to a secular ideology and to an organized secular struggle. Consequently, secularization, measured in declining religious authority remains largely separate from secularism and a liberal ethos of equality and freedom.

Vegetarian lunch served.

Friday, December 1
Friedl 225, East Campus

Contact amber.diaz@duke.edu for parking (for those coming from outside of Duke). Duke faculty and students are encouraged to use the East-West campus bus.

May 022017
 May 2, 2017

This symposium will unfold as a focused, cross‐disciplinary conversation about the relationship of German philosophy and theology as they struggle to redefine themselves following the trauma of WW I. Focusing on a number of case studies, the seven symposium speakers will explore how theology and philosophy, the two disciplines preeminently expected to delineate a viable social and ethical framework for modern life, struggle to do so following the collapse of Germany’s political, legal, and cultural institutions in November 1918. Representative trends within philosophy and theology during the interwar period, especially the increasingly important role of phenomenology will form the starting point for the discussion.

For more information, please click here.

Participants and Abstracts:

Prof. Philip Buckley (Professor of Philosophy, McGill University):

Nov. 2, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Phenomenology as Soteriology: Husserl and the call for ‘Erneuerung’ in the 1920’s”

Prof. Thomas Pfau (Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English, Professor of German, & Faculty

Member: Duke Divinity School):

Nov. 2, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

“‘Noch ist uns das Dasein verzaubert’: Disambiguating Rilke and Heidegger”

Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr (Dorothy Grant McLear Professor of Modern Jewish History and

Thought, University of Chicago & Hebrew University – Jerusalem):

Nov. 2, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

“Gnostic Anxieties of Weimar Jewish Intellectuals”

Prof. Dr. Judith Wolfe (Senior Lecturer in Theology and the Arts, University of St. Andrews):

Nov. 3, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

“The inheritance of eschatological thought in inter-war philosophy”

Prof. Cyril O’Regan (Huisking Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame):

Nov. 3, 11:00 – 12:30 p.m.

“Balthasar: Apocalypse and the Eclipse of Nietzsche”

Prof. John Betz (Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame):

Nov. 3, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

“The analogia entis as a Catholic panacea? Erich Przywara’s interventions in the philosophy and theology of the 1920s”

Prof. Dr. Dr. Holger Zaborowski (History of Philosophy & Ethics, Vallendar Philosophical-

Theological University):

Nov. 3, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

“Liturgy, Antinomy, and Freedom: Guardini’s Phenomenology of Religion”

*Beverages and refreshments will be provided prior to the first session and during breaks.

Symposium Website:


Sponsored by Arts & Sciences Research Council; Germanic Language & Literatures; Franklin Humanities Institute; Office of Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies; Religions & Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics; Program in Political Theory; Division of Theology – Duke Divinity School; Program in Literature & Theory; Department of History; Department of Religion

May 012017
 May 1, 2017

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics will host on Nov. 1 at 1:30p.m. a seminar with Daniel Jenkins, Presidential Visiting Fellow at Yale University. Dr. Jenkins’ talk, “Anti-Protestantism and Its Contemporary Legacy,” argues that many of today’s critiques of secularism, human rights, religious freedom, etc. assume an understanding of Protestantism that is difficult to square with its actual history.

A full abstract and the speaker’s bio is provided below.

For more information on the event, contact Deirdre White at deirdre.white@duke.edu.

1:30-3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 1
Friedl 225
(East Campus)

Abstract: This paper provides an alternative way to examine the legacy of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It does so by showing how contemporary leading intellectual historians, anthropologists and political theorists trace all that is wrong with current age back to the Protestant Reformation and its unintended consequences. In putting forward this argument it makes three observations: 1) The attack against the Protestant Reformation today is inseparable from a critique of liberalism that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union; 2) Recent critiques of Protestantism are, in fact, reviving a long tradition of Catholic anti-Protestantism with deep roots in the nineteenth Century; 3) There is a strange political convergence between Left and Right over their mutual disdain of Protestantism, and specifically its connection to human rights, religious freedom and international law.

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins is a historian of Modern Western European Political and Intellectual History with a specific focus on 20th century France and Germany. He primarily concentrates on such topics as conservatism, nationalism, secularism, and religion and politics.  He is currently working on a manuscript for Columbia University Press titled, Raymond Aron and Postwar American Political Ideologies. He is the former managing editor of the Immanent Frame, which is the Social Science Research Council’s website devoted to questions of religion, secularism and the public sphere. His public commentary has appeared in The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Times Literary Supplement, Dissent Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2016-2017 he was the post-doctoral fellow in Public Theology for UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Religion. At Yale he will be offering religion and politics courses in the Department of Religious Studies.

Apr 092017
 April 9, 2017

The Duke Center for Jewish Studies, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke, Duke-UNC Middle Eastern Consortium, Duke Asian and Pacific Studies Institute, and the Duke Middle East Studies Center will host on Oct. 18 a lecture on ‘An Italian Jesuit in Canton & the War on the Chinese: “Orientalism,” Conquest, & the Eastern Indian Ocean in the 16th c.,’ at 6pm in the Thomas Room (2nd floor), Lilly Library. Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor in the Department of History and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Faculty of Arts & Science at New York University, will present the lecture.

A light dinner will be served.

For more information on the event, contact Serena Bazemore at serena.elliott@duke.edu.

  • 6 p.m., Oct. 18
  • Thomas Room 
  • Lilly Library
Apr 092017
 April 9, 2017

The Duke Center for Jewish Studies, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke, Duke-UNC Middle Eastern Consortium, Duke Asian and Pacific Studies Institute, and the Duke Middle East Studies Center will host on Oct. 19 a lecture on ‘An Arab Jew in Rome: “Zionism” and “Islamophobia” in the 16th c. and Now,’ at 12pm in the Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Smith Warehouse (Bay 4, C105). Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor in the Department of History and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Faculty of Arts & Science at New York University, will present the lecture.

For more information on the event, contact Serena Bazemore at serena.elliott@duke.edu.

  • 12 p.m., Oct. 19
  • Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall
  • Smith Warehouse