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John Bowen Lectures (2010)

Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics

Many thanks to the Leverhulme Trust| for supporting these lectures.

Professor John Bowen is Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences, Sociocultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis

During the 1980s people living in Europe and North America took cognizance of two major developments in religion and public life. Islam assumed a more prominent role both in majority Muslim societies and in societies of relatively recent residence. And forms of Christianity took on greater public roles in much of the West. These parallel developments have given rise to interrogations on many fronts: concerning the nature of secularism, the proper role of religious commitments in liberal democracies, and the accommodations required for Islam to assume its new role in those democracies. Confusion reigns over how to understand claims made in the name of Islam, or for that matter those made in the name of laïcité, toleration, or multiculturalism. This series of three lectures attempts to address some of these issues from a perspective that is anthropological, political-theoretic, and comparative.

Podcasts for all these lectures can be found under the month heading at:

http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/publicLecturesAndEvents.htm|

Lecture 1: Secularisms in Crisis

Tuesday 02 February 2010 
Venue: New Theatre, East Building London School of Economics
Time: 6.30-8.00pm
Speaker: Professor John Bowen
Chair: Dr Simon Glendinning

The first lecture reviews competing notions of 'secularism' before arguing for a global, comparative focus on modes of governance that support and limit the reach of religions. This approach will lead us to compare societies and their current crises in Asia and Europe. The case of France will allow us to explore the limits of taking national models at face value; that of Indonesia will raise the question of secularism's limits: can a secular system include Islamic law?



Lecture 2: Studying Islam across times and place: how to compare?

Tuesday 02 March 2010 
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, London School of Economics
Time: 6.30-8.00pm
Speaker: Professor John Bowen
Chair: Professor John Sidel

We discuss `Studying Islam across times and place: how to compare?' and this time we subject 'Islam' to an analytical discussion. The anthropological approach advocated here focuses on processes by which Muslims refer back to an Islamic tradition, and employ those references to explain and change the social world. Current debates in Aceh (Indonesia) about how to understand sharî`a provide an initial case study; these debates are then shown to be quite similar to some underway in Western Europe.



Lecture 3: Islam, secularisms and law across Europe

Tuesday 04 May 2010 
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, London School of Economics
Time: 6.30-8.00pm
Speaker: Professor John Bowen
Chair: Professor Martha Mundy

The third lecture concerns 'Islam, secularisms and law across Europe.' This lecture will draw on the understandings of Islam and secularism that have been explored in the earlier talks to compare recent processes of social and legal adaptation in Europe. We will begin with a contrast between England and France that will touch on histories of immigration, the respective legal frameworks, and the directions of normative and legal thinking by legal and religious scholars in the two countries. Forays out to the North American and German cases will extend our comparative analysis.



For further information about this lecture series, please contact Joanna Stone (j.f.stone@lse.ac.uk|). 

Maps and Directions can be found at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/Home.aspx|

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Professor John Bowen

Professor Bowen's Staff Page can be found here|.