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Nationalism, Populism, and the Politics of Religion. Towards an Illiberal Reframing of Fundamental Rights

Thursday, October 26, 2023, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Registration is required for on-site participation by October 25 here.

If you would like to follow the event online, the Zoom meeting will be available here.

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The lecture explores the re-politicization of religion that emerged in the 1980s and its subsequent use as a cultural and identitarian symbol by illiberal nationalist and populist movements. This phenomenon has led to a significant shift in the interpretation of fundamental constitutional rights. By drawing on historical, political, and constitutional theory, as well as comparative constitutional law, the lecture seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the efforts to undermine constitutional secularism for purposes of furthering the agenda of majority or dominant illiberal groups within nation-states and across international boundaries.


Professor Susanna Mancini holds the Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Bologna School of Law and is a vice president of the International Association of Constitutional Law. Her work explores the relationship between law and culture, and how it is (re-)shaping the balance of power and privilege in a liberal society. She has particular interest in the intersection of law and religion, gender and the law, reproductive rights, multiculturalism, the multilevel protection of fundamental rights, federalism, and secession. Some of her latest publications include Constitutions and Religion (Elgar, 2020), The Conscience Wars (Cambridge University Press 2018, with Rosenfeld),  Comparative Constitutional Law. Cases and Materials (with Dorsen Rosenfeld, Sajo and Baer, West, 2022).

This lecture is part of the CIVICA Research project “RELICON: Religion, Illiberal Constitutionalism, and the Retrogression of Fundamental Rights in East Central Europe” – a collaboration between the Hertie School, CEU’s Democracy Institute and the EUI. RELICON is set to explore role that religion-based value claims and arguments play in democratic backsliding and the rise of illiberal democracy, with a specific focus on their impact on constitutional interpretation and judicial politics concerning fundamental rights. The project is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101017201.