Religious Heterodoxy and Modern States

a conference at Yale University

March 28-29, 2014

Henry R. Luce Hall
2nd Floor, Room 203
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT

Sadia Saeed, Department of Sociology, Yale University

For information, contact
Gulay Turkmen-Dervisoglu

Sponsored by the Council on Middle East Studies; Center for Comparative Research (CCR); South Asia Studies Council; Council on East Asian Studies; and the European Studies Council


Questions of religious difference, liberty and freedom are deeply bound with how notions of secularism and religion mutually take shape and evolve over time. There are consequently important national differences that cut across regional and religious divides in how religious differences are institutionally managed by modern states. This conference will probe theoretical and empirical issues pertaining to internal religious difference. Internal religious difference refers to those groups and communities that hold religious doctrines considered deviant from mainstream religions and which are typically labeled evil, heretical, infidels, apostates or unbelievers. This conference will interrogate national cases in which such religious groups have been deemed heterodox by modern states. Specifically, it will draw forth how specific religious groups provoke unique anxieties for modern states wedded to defining legitimate religion.

Thematically, the participants will address issues including, but not limited to, nationalism and state formation, law, constitutions, courts, religious organizations, secularism, tolerance and religion. Participants will engage in theoretical discussions, normative inquiries and empirical cases. Through addressing these issues and cases within a comparative framework, the conference aspires to expand scholarly research on politics of religious difference and recognition.