A call for papers from the The iGov-Institutions and Governance Program of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute:

The iGov-Institutions and Governance Program of the University of California, Berkeley (with the support of Professor Christopher Kutz) and the Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute (with the support of Professor Olivier Roy) are funding a series of papers on Islam and Religious Norms in the Public Sphere. The papers will be presented during 2 workshops (one in Florence and one in Berkeley) and will be published as working papers on the network website together with policy briefs. This is a call for proposals for papers.


From the ban of minarets in Switzerland, to the question of crucifixes in public schools in Italy, to the English High Court ruling on Jewish identity in the case of admission to an orthodox Jewish high school: the sacred has emerged into secular democratic politics.

This “return to the sacred” encompasses both a re-emergence of religious norms and ideas into public sphere and, as a result of globalization, an increasing disconnect between religious norms and regional cultural markers.

In our post-9/11 world, the media has focused on ‘newly’ discovered Muslim populations in the West, often casting this religious group in ethnic terms. This has led Western governments to use problematic tools and lenses – assimilation, secularization, and multiculturalism – to deal with religious “minorities’” role in the public sphere. These are problematic because they mistake the relation of religion to culture and politics within pluralistic states.

The RPS network, anchored by U.C. – Berkeley and the Robert Schuman Center of the European University Institute (EIU), aims to shed new light on these issues by recasting the supposed tensions between Islam and the West in light of broader questions about religion’s relationship to modern politics and society. The RPS international scholarly network will analyze the call by people of all faiths for greater recognition of religious norms by governments, legislatures, and schools.

The research will have clear relevance for public policy on both sides of the Atlantic by directly addressing how political demands and religious identities can be respected while still complying with the secular principles underlying Western democratic traditions.

Further details and instructions for submission are available here.

This project is funded by the SSRC’s Academia in the Public Sphere: Islam and Muslims in World Contexts program.