This July 11-12, a small interdisciplinary group of scholars convened in Venice for the first in a series of workshops organized by Peter Danchin, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan in conjunction with the Politics of Religious Freedom project. This multi-year project “proposes to study how religious freedom is being transformed through legal and political contestations in the United States, the Middle East, South Asia, and the European Union… (and) undertakes a comparative study of the multiple historical trajectories, concepts, and practices now organized under the rubric of religious freedom.” The conveners of the workshop have authored a report, excerpted below, on its proceedings:

The workshop lasted for two days during which we began to tell a new story about why religious freedom has become an apparently indispensable project today and to whose benefit the lurking inequalities and indeterminacies of such a project redounds. Why and when freedom of religion becomes salient politically is extremely complex, incompletely understood, and rapidly changing. It is our intention to critically re-describe this history and to responsibly engage those active politically in furthering human flourishing and the promotion of peaceful religious coexistence.

There are multiple ways in which religious freedom is being litigated and negotiated globally. We aim to document key examples of this diversity and to provide scholars, legal practitioners, and political actors, with new models for thinking about this diversity.

Read the full report here.