Click here to download the Symposium Poster (11x17")
This forum is part of a larger multi-year initiative on “Managing Religious Diversity in the Neoliberal Americas,” based at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics and funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. For this April event, we are gathering leading legal scholars, policy practitioners, and religious studies scholars from across the Americas to consider tensions—real and alleged—between religious freedom and social equality.
This framing – religious liberty “versus” social equality for women and LGBT people – is happening across the Americas, but its specific forms, policy solutions, and vocabularies are not taking the same shape in each national context.
In the United States, for example, we see an amplification of rhetoric that pits the claims for equality and rights of LGBT people and women “against” the religious liberty of traditionalist opponents of, for example, homosexuality and abortion. But this is more than rhetoric: in March 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a major “religious liberty” challenge to the contraceptive provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and religious exemptions are the next frontier in the political and legal fight over same-sex marriage in the United States.
In Argentina, the Asosiación de Derechos Civiles (ADC) has challenged the compulsory teaching of Catholic education in public schools in the Province of Salta, calling it a violation of students’ rights to receive a secular education. In June 2013, the provincial Supreme Court upheld the Catholic curriculum. In their ruling, the Justices based their decision in part on the fact that a majority of citizens in that province are Catholic. The ADC is appealing the decision. Meanwhile, Christian communities in Chiapas and other parts of Mexico are demanding the right to home school children in a context where secular elementary education is compulsory.
These disputes across the Americas reveal the fractures and realignments that occur when the dominance or hegemony of particular religious institutions come under challenge, whether due to an increase in religious diversity and/or to changes at the level of the state. How are we to make sense of and respond to these phenomena? What critical tools are being used by local actors to respond to their specific national debates? How might we together develop analyses and activist tool-kits capable of thinking and acting across national boundaries and legal differences?
Lori G. Beaman | Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a Diverse Canada, Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa
Benjamin Berger | Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada
Marco Huaco | President & Founder, Institute Pro Religious Freedom and Public Affaires (PROLIBRE), Peru
Louise Melling | Center for Liberty, American Civil Liberties Union
Julieta Lemaitre Ripoll | Legal Theory, University of the Andes, Colombia
Pam Spees | staff attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Nelson Tebbe | Brooklyn Law School
Juan Marco Vaggione | Sociology, School of Law, National University of Córdoba, Argentina, and the Argentinean National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)
Rev. Winnie Varghese | Rector, St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery
Ann Pellegrini | New York University
This event is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU (CSGS), with funding provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. A photo ID is required to enter NYU buildings.
The Yes Lab and the Center for Artistic Activism are announcing the launch of Actipedia.org, an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism case studies designed to inspire activists.
"We designed Actipedia to inspire activists to more creative—and effective—actions," explains Stephen Duncombe, co-founder of the Center for Creative Activism.
"Actipedia is about sharing the ways people challenge power and envision a better society," adds Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. "To change the world we've got to learn from each other."
Actipedia is built on an open-source platform and is designed for ease of use, with simple formats for viewing, searching and posting examples. The site draws case studies from original submissions, reprinted news articles, and informal snippets of action reports. Although it is only now launching, Actipedia already hosts over 500 case studies and counting, from countries from all over the world.
"Actipedia provides a space for inspiration and for contribution," noted one recent user. "Seeing all the amazing work going on around the world motivates me and makes me realize the potential impact I can have."
The Yes Lab helps activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals. Through brainstorms and trainings, social justice organizations can take advantage of all that the Yes Men—Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno—have learned, not only about our their own ways of doing things, but those practices they’ve come in contact with over the decade and a half they've been engaging in creative activism and tactical media.
The Center for Artistic Activism is a place to explore, analyze, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice. The Center was founded by Stephen Duncombe, longtime activist and professor at New York University and Steve Lambert, longtime artist and professor at SUNY Purchase. Since 2009, the center has has served as a site for artistic activist trainings, actions, research and resources. The Center seeks to foster more creative activists and more effective artists.
Actipedia can be found at http://actipedia.org/ or on twitter @Actipedia, and the collaborators are available for interviews upon request.