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2016-17 Seminar Series

Religious Pluralism and Education in Greece

Speakers :

Dr Effie Fokas
Principal Investigator, GRASSROOTSMOBILISE; Research Fellow, Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy; Research Associate, Hellenic Observatory, LSE;
Dr Margarita Markoviti
Postdoctoral Fellow, GRASSROOTSMOBILISE, Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy

Chair :

Dr Rebecca Bryant
A.N. Hadjiyiannis Senior Research Fellow, Hellenic Observatory, LSE

Date :

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Venue :

Cañada Blanch Room, COW 1.11, 1st floor, Cowdray House

European Institute, LSE

Time : 18:00-19:30

Read a blog post by the speakers on the topic at Greece@LSE.

The “radiating effects” of the European Court of Human Rights in a context of prevailing religion and increasing religious pluralism

Τhis presentation tackled the recurrent and contentious topic of religion and education in Greece. In the light of increasing religious pluralism and the volatile discussions on Church-state relations, which have recently culminated in the political controversy involving former Minister of Education, the presentation considered the role of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) as an active player in the rapidly broadening domain of religion and education. Moving beyond the interesting, yet narrow, research question on the implementation or ¬non¬-implementation of the Court’s decisions, the seminar yielded critical insights into the ways in which the Court’s decisions on religion and education have influenced domestic debates in Greece, have raised public awareness and have provided the discursive frameworks and political opportunity structures within which citizens act in the arena of religion and education. As part of the European Research Council project, “Grassrootsmobilise”, the seminar drew on extensive fieldwork with a range of actors in Greek society (religious minority actors, Orthodox Church representatives, lawyers and government representatives) and discusses such “indirect effects” of the Court around three debated issues: (1) the content and objectives of religious education, (2) exemption from the class of religion; and (3) the presence of religious symbols in school. The presentation shall demonstrate that the Court’s minimal prevalence on religion and education in Greece is due to a particular understanding of the doctrine of the margin of appreciation, linked to strategic references to and varying interpretations of the Court’s judgments, and to constitutional provisions on education and religion, promoting a traditionally mono-religious perspective.





Effie FokasDr Effie Fokas is Principal Investigator of the European Research Council-funded project examining ‘Grassroots Mobilisations in the Shadow of European Court of Human Rights Religious Freedoms Jurisprudence’ (Grassrootsmobilise), based at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Also at ELIAMEP she previously carried out a study of ‘Pluralism and Religious Freedom in Orthodox Countries in Europe’ (PLUREL). She was founding Director of the London School of Economics Forum on Religion and is currently Research Associate of the LSE Hellenic Observatory. Her publications include Islam in Europe: Diversity, Identity and Influence, co-edited with Aziz Al-Azmeh, and Religious America, Secular Europe? A Theme and Variations, co-authored with Peter Berger and Grace Davie.


Margarita MarkovitiDr Margarita Markoviti is postdoctoral researcher at the European Research Council project, “Grassrootsmobilise”, based at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). She completed her PhD at the European Institute of the London School of Economics under the title “Education and the Europeanization of Religious Freedoms: France and Greece in comparative perspective”. Margarita holds a BA in History from King’s College, London, a Master en Affaires Européennes from the Institut d’Études Politiques, in Paris and an MSc in European Studies from the LSE. Her research and publications focus on religion and national identity, education and European integration, religious freedoms and social cohesion in light of religious pluralism. 


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Listen to the seminar podcast



See the presentation