Comparative Constitutional Law, Democracy, Law and Religion, Public Theology, Religion and Politics, Whither Europe?

Call for Papers, Panel on “The Political Theologies of Liberal Democracy,” EuARe, Bologna, 22-25 June 2020

Following last year’s successful panel on James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies, I will be co-hosting a panel on “The Political Theologies of Liberal Democracy” during the upcoming conference of the European Academy of Religion in Bologna.

Accepted panelists include Michael Borowski (independent Scholar), Matt Eggemeier (College of the Holy Cross), Nura Hossainzadeh (Stanford University), Hannes Mayer (University of Graz), Leonard Taylor (Institute of Technology, Sligo), Marietta van der Tol (University of Cambridge) and myself.

There is room for two more papers. If you’re interested in presenting a paper, please feel free to drop me a note before the end of January (email address can be found in the Contact section of this website).

Read the description of the panel here:

One reason why there is talk of a revival of political theology lies in the use that populist politicians make of theological language. The proposed panel will explore the question of why populists demonstrate this type of behavior. It is possible to distinguish at least three potential explanations for the use that populists are currently making of theological language. The first one is that liberal democracy does not have at its disposal a convincing political theology of its own. A second potential explanation holds that liberal democracy is paradoxically characterized by a rather strong political-theological narrative of its own, which leads to a reaction among populists. The third possible explanation is that liberal democracy does have a more authentic – be it also more controversial – narrative available that it does not use, i.e., a narrative that its values are Judeo-Christian in its origins. By filling in the void, populists tend to twist and turn the latter narrative in a way that makes it no longer sound, i.e., grounded in historical and theological evidence. In the panel, there will be room for papers arguing for all three potential explanations, in addition to panelists who wish to construct still other political theologies that could help liberal democracy maintain its legitimacy or that suggest alternatives to liberal democracy while remaining broadly within the Western constitutional and political tradition.

For more information on the conference generally, see:

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