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Liberalism’s Dangerous Religions. Enlightenment Legacies in Political Theory Supervisors: Yolande Jansen, Michiel Leezenberg | 28 October 16:00 hrs | Agnietenkapel.

Event details of Dissertation Defense Anna Blijdenstein
Date 28 October 2021
Time 16:00

DISSERTATION DEFENSE: ANNA BLIJDENSTEIN
Liberalism’s Dangerous Religions. Enlightenment Legacies in Political Theory
Supervisors: Yolande Jansen, Michiel Leezenberg | 28 October 16:00 hrs | Agnietenkapel. My thesis provides a conceptual-historical analysis of the dynamic between religious critique and the framing of Jews and Muslims in Enlightenment thought, and it examines the contributions of contemporary liberal philosophers debating religious freedom in the light of that conceptual history.
First, I show that the development a modern category of ‘religion’ went hand in hand with the unfolding of ideas about religion’s dangerous characteristics. Ideas that were flexibly put to use in the construction of religious hierarchies and the problematization and early forms of securitization of specific groups of believers. An expansive tracing of how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam figure in the work of Enlightenment scholars also sheds light on the way the category of ‘religion’ has played a role in the demarcation of European civilization.
I then discuss the ways in which these genealogies can and should inform contemporary political philosophers working on normative questions about religion’s place within the liberal state. Philosophers reflecting on the concept of religion often focus on one aspect of the concept’s construal, namely its Protestant foundations. What is needed, I argue, is a stronger engagement with the securitization and surveillance of religion and the diverse ways in which religion and religious difference can become politicized. Political theory should thus not only question how religion is defined, but also what it does in the framing and governance of social conflicts – e.g. those about immigration and integration – and how it interacts with other categories such as nationality, ethnicity, race, and civilization.