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Whither Blasphemy: On Resilience of an Idea, Past and Present

Online Event
The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter by Max Ernst (1926)
Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

From Andres Serrano’s photograph titled Immersion. Piss-Christ, a portrait of Jesus Christ made of urine to Charlie Hebdo's caricatures of the Muslim prophet [or prophet of Islam] Muhammad, blasphemy poses the conundrum of the multiple ways by which religion might be, and in practice is, regulated in diverse societies formally or informally. Located at the junction of law and religion and of norms and practices, blasphemy has a history entangled with the history of state organs and institutions of religion, with a reach into the realm of mentalities and sentiments. In recent years the issue of blasphemy has become more salient to some secular states than hitherto, not least with the growing incidence and pressures of multiculturalist notions of tolerance, and the insertion of incommensurable otherness into the middle of the debate. Controversies and confrontations involving blasphemy, pacific as well as violent, verbal as well as bodily, have become more insistent. How does contemporary blasphemy differ from the various historical examples available for comparison? To what extent does the idea emerge from existing social relations today? Is there any sense in talking about blasphemy today as a general term rather than considering its evocations in very specific settings?

This masterclass features experts who will cast a variety of perspectives upon the questions at hand, offering insight on how blasphemy might be considered, addressed, and dealt with both as a topic for academic study and research and a matter for public policy. They will offer historical, conceptual, normative and political terms of reference that can inform a scholar’s approaches to the complex issues presented here.

Morning Keynote Address I.
Aziz Al-Azmeh, University Professor, Department of History, CEU
Post-colonial Blasphemy 

Afternoon Keynote Address II. 
David Nash, Professor, School of History, Philosophy and Culture, Oxford Brookes University and Director, Center for Inquiry, London
Blasphemy’s History in the Contemporary World: Enabling a disjointed history to inform the present and its problems

Please find the promotional poster attached here.

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This is an internal event for CEU Religious Studies faculty and students. CRS is accepting applications for participation from external parties. Doctoral candidates from partner institutions are encouraged to apply.

Please send your letter of interest to religion@ceu.edu