Received wisdom from across the political spectrum suggests that securing religious freedom results in peaceful co-existence and ensures individual and associational flourishing vis-à-vis the state. Meanwhile, a deficit of religious freedom is seen as a driving force behind—if not the proximate cause of—insecurity and violence. The logic of these assumptions is currently being used to justify a wide range of well-funded public and private interventions in many parts of the world.

But what is religious freedom, and why are we talking about it now?

Guest edited by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan in conjunction with a joint research project, this ongoing discussion considers the multiple histories and genealogies of religious freedom—and the multiple contexts in which those histories and genealogies are salient today.