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Conferences/Workshops

Ready for Democracy?

Religion and Political Culture in the Orthodox and Islamic Worlds

February 28-March 2, 2013
Indiana University - Bloomington

Egypt votes Conference 2013

Online Conference Schedule
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Can cultural and religious expression create a barrier to the development of democratic government? Recent events in predominantly Islamic and Orthodox regions invite us to reexamine conventional assessments of Russia, Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world as historically ill-suited to democratic political practice.

The aim of this conference is to examine common assumptions about the limits to democratic practices in societies that are largely Orthodox or Islamic. Within this comparative framework, we aim to move beyond generalities about religion, religious institutions, and politics to consider what specifically might be the relationship between religion and political culture. We expect that panels at this conference will focus on:

  • the roles that religious institutions, religious movements, and their leaders play in civil society and democratic processes;
  • the ways that religious tradition and beliefs impact ideas about and practices of democracy;
  • the significance of religious rituals in shaping the practices of the public sphere.

We hope that this conference will offer scholars ― from a variety of disciplines interested in these two religious traditions and their political contexts ― an opportunity to compare notes and perhaps develop common frameworks for speaking about religion's place in the debates about democracy that have become more intense in the wake of the Arab Spring and the recent Russian protests. Publication of a volume based upon the conference will be considered.

Panel I: The Arab Uprising in Three Scenes
Panel II. First Encounters and Continuing Legacies
Panel III. Theology, Law, and Politics
Panel IV. State Churches and State Politics
Panel V: Negotiating Institutions from Below and Above
Panel VI: Religion and Blasphemy: A Social Movement in Russia Today
Panel VII: Belief and Bureaucracy, Democracy and Devotion:
What Have We Learned? A Roundtable Discussion

For more information, contact the REEI office (812) 855-7309 or reei@indiana.edu

Sponsored by:

  • Russian and East European Institute
  • Center for the Study of the Middle East
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute
  • Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center
  • Institute for Advanced Study
  • Islamic Studies Program
  • Department of Central Eurasian Studies
  • Department of History
  • Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Religious Studies

Conference Schedule

Thursday, February 28
4pm - 5:45pm
Fine Arts 102

Panel I: The Arab Uprising in Three Scenes
Chair: Feisal Istrabadi (Indiana University)
Lena Salaymeh (University of California, Berkeley), “After the Uprising: Tunisia and the Politics of Religion in Democracy Debates”
Saad Ibrahim (Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Study, Egypt), “Rehabilitation of Muslim Jihadists in Egypt”
Saad Ibrahim is a 2013 Branigin Lecturer, sponsored by the IU Institute for Advanced Study
Ahmed Khanani (Indiana University), “Procedures as Bridges? Moroccan islamyun and the Institutions of Democracy
Comment: Abdulkader Sinno (Indiana University)

6pm - 8pm
University Club, President’s Room (Indiana Memorial Union 150)

Opening Reception


Friday, March 1
All Events in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Grand Hall
8:30-10:15
Panel II. First Encounters and Continuing Legacies
Chair: David Ransel (Indiana University)
Leone Musgrave (Indiana University), “Secularists, Socialists, and Sufis: The North Caucasus, Islam, and Political Pluralism in the Russian Revolutions, 1905-1924
Rustem Tsiunchuk (Kazan Federal University, Russia), “The Muslim Question in the State Duma of the Russian Empire”
John Bragg (New Jersey City University), “Local Representation and the Legacy of Ottoman Councils in Contemporary Middle Eastern Politics”
Comment: Kaya Sahin (Indiana University)

10:30-12:15
Panel III. Theology, Law, and Politics
Chair: Asma Afsaruddin (Indiana University)
Wallace Daniel (Mercer University), “Aleksander Men', the Russian Orthdox Church, and the Connection between Religion and Culture”
Comment: Patrick Michelson (Indiana University)
Timur Kuran (Duke University), “Institutional Roots of Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East: Political Legacies of the Waqf”
Comment: Kevin Jaques (Indiana University)

1:30-3:15
Panel IV. State Churches and State Politics
Chair: Nazif Shahrani (Indiana University)
Dumitru Cotelea (Babes-Bolyai University, Romania), “The Role of the Majoritarian Orthodox Church in Promoting Democratic Processes: The Case of Republic of Moldova”
Mohammad Ali Kadivar and Ali Reza Eshraghi (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), “When Do Grand Ayatollahs Support a Democratic Movement?”
Theofanis Stavrou (University of Minnesota), “Orthodoxy and Politics in Greece and the Balkans”
Comment: Padraic Kenney (Indiana University)

3:30-5:15
Panel V: Negotiating Institutions from Below and Above Chair: Gardner Bovingdon (Indiana University)
Noor Borbieva (Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne), “Islam and State Power in the Kyrgyz Republic”
Mariana Markova (University of Washington), “Orthodox Christians and Their Feelings: A Case Study of the Young Generation in Moscow”
Fait Muedini (Eckerd College), “The Promotion of Sufism in the Politics of Russia, Chechnya, and Uzbekistan”
Comment: Edward Lazzerini (Indiana University)

Saturday, March 2
All Events in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Grand Hall

9:00-10:45
Panel VI: Religion and Blasphemy: A Social Movement in Russia Today
Chair: Maria Bucur (Indiana University)
Regina Smyth (Indiana University), “Bounding Protest: Pussy Riot and the Battle for Political Participation in Russia”
Kathryn Graber (Indiana University), “Punk Prayer, Orthodox Language, and the Limits of Free Speech”
Jessica Sanders (University of Southern California), “Prophets in Everyday Life: Pussy Riot and Religiously Based Models of Dissent in Russian Culture”
Comment: Sarah Phillips (Indiana University)

11:00-12:30
Panel VII: Belief and Bureaucracy, Democracy and Devotion: What Have We Learned? A Roundtable Discussion
Chair: Padraic Kenney (Indiana University)
Panelists: Wallace Daniel (Mercer University), Saad Ibrahim (Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Study, Egypt), Timur Kuran (Duke University), and others.

Persons with disabilities who wish to attend the lectures and would like to request assistance should contact the REEI office (812-855-7309 or reei@indiana.edu)
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