CES Summer School

Secularism, Gender and Democracy

4 a 6 de julho de 2012

CES-Lisboa, Picoas Plaza, Rua do Viriato 13, Lj. 117/118




The Lisbon Summer School 2012 has as its topic the contentious relationship between religion and politics, and the impact that this relationship has on gender issues. Religion undoubtedly plays an important role in contemporary societies: multiculturalism, migration, and bioethical debates, among others, put religion in the spotlight of the public sphere, thereby calling for a redefinition of classical secularization theories. Today, the separation between religion and politics is being questioned more or less radically, as is the meaning and the substance of democracy. This invigorated interest in secularism and democracy can be observed, for example, in the recent work of Talal Asad, José Casanova, Jürgen Habermas, Saba Mahmood, Tariq Modood and Charles Taylor.
At the same time, European as well as non-European societies are experiencing a profound reshaping of their political landscapes. The Mediterranean area is especially affected by massive transformations – as can be seen in phenomena like the “Arab Spring” or the Spanish “indignados”-movement. In these contexts, it has become clear that new modes of governance redraw the boundaries between institutional actors and citizens, and create space for horizontal networks.

Gender relations lie at the heart of these transformative processes. In Europe, gender relations have over the last 20 years become the focal point of controversies over the contested separation of religion and politics - the various “Hijab affairs” in many European countries attest to this fact. Faced with the (sometimes openly) racist agendas behind many of these affairs, a critical approach is needed. Through a deep-reaching and contextually sensitive discussion, the summer school will thus refine our understanding of how secularism and democracy interrelate with gender issues today. This broad theme will be discussed on the three days of the summer school along the following lines:
  1. We will look into contemporary configurations of secular regimes from a comparative and historical perspective.
  2. We will scrutinize the manifold and complex ways in which gender is affected by, and at the same time itself affects, modes of religious governance in modern societies.
  3. We will focus on the democratic challenges and opportunities that religious diversity creates within liberal political regimes.
The topic of this summer school is by definition interdisciplinary. Grasping the complex interface between religion and politics, and how they it impacts on gender and gender relations involves different disciplines, such as Political Science and Sociology, Gender Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Religious Studies and Theology. Each of these disciplines can offer original and in-depth insights into the topic of this summer school. Therefore, researchers and practitioners working in these academic fields are invited to apply. Both theoretical papers on the normative and conceptual problems, and empirical papers on case studies, comparative accounts and historical trajectories are welcome.

In terms of teaching methodology, this summer school is based on the idea that only a productive dialogue between the faculty and the participants can promote the flourishing of democratic scholarship. Therefore, each of the three days of the summer school will consist of a morning session, with interactive presentations by the faculty, and of an afternoon session, featuring the individual presentations of the participants. Participants will hence have the unique opportunity to engage in critical conversations with the faculty, and discuss their own research projects. Faculty members will present original contributions to the topic as well as comment on the participants’ papers.

Time and Place

July 4-July 6, 2012 at the Centro de Estudos Sociais, Lisbon, Portugal


The Lisbon Summer School 2012 is organized by the Observatory on the Politics of Cultural and Religious Diversity in Southern Europe (POLICREDOS) at the Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal.

How to Apply

To participate in the summer school you must have at least completed a BA degree. Interested graduate students and postdoctoral researchers should fill out the following form until April 1, 2012.


200 EUR


The working language of the summer school is English.

Preparing for the Summer School

Participants will be asked to circulate their contributions prior to the summer school. There are no formal requirements for these contributions, but we would encourage the participants to only submit advanced research papers. What is more, all the participants are supposed to read the assigned texts in advance.



Veit Bader

Veit Bader is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Professor Emeritus of Social and Political Philosophy at the Amsterdam University. He is also a member of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES). He is currently involved in the IMES research line on the Governance of Ethnic and Religious Diversity. He is also the coordinator of the Dutch partnerships in the FP7 funded projects Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion: Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century in Europe (ACCEPT) and RELIGARE — Religious Diversity and Secular Models in Europe – Innovative Approaches to Law and Policy. Bader's research interests lie within the fields of social theory, class theory, critical theory, institutional pluralism and multiculturalism. In his book Secularism or Democracy? Associational Governance of Religious Diversity Bader gives an alternative to the predominant contemporary regimes of governance of religious diversity.

Rajeev Bhargava

Rajeev Bhargava obtained his BA degree in Economics from the University of Delhi and M.Phil and D.Phil from Oxford University. He is currently Senior Fellow and Director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, He is also the Director of the CSDS programme on Social and Political Theory. He has previously been Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and between 2001-2005 held the chair in Political theory and Indian political thought at the University of Delhi and was the Head of its Department of Political Science. His publications include Individualism in Social Science, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992,) Secularism and its Critics ed. (OUP, New Delhi, 1998), Multiculturalism, Liberalism and Democracy, (ed. with A. Bagchi and R. Sudarshan, OUP 1999) and Transforming India, (ed. With Francine Frankel et. al, OUP 2000) and Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution (ed.) OUP, 2008. He is currently working on a book on secularism.

Alberta Giorgi

Alberta Giorgi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal) and Post-doc associée at Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (Paris). Her research interests include political secularism in a comparative perspective, politics and religion, religious associations, and political participation.

Chia Longman

Chia Longman is Lecturer in Gender and Diversity Studies at Ghent University, Belgium. Her research interests include the anthropology of gender, kinship, ethnicity and religion, particularly women's identity politics among religious traditionalist minorities in Western Europe, including Orthodox Jewish and Muslim women. She has published in Dutch and internationally including in the European Journal of Women's Studies, Social Compass, Ethnicities and Social Anthropology. A co-edited book in French on feminism and multiculturalism Féminisme et multiculturalisme: Les ambiguïtés du débat, appeared with Peter Lang Publishers in 2010. She is chief editor of the Dutch Journal of Gender Studies and executive editor of the new European journal Religion and Gender.

Mathias Thaler

Mathias Thaler is a senior researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal). His areas of specialization are contemporary theories of global justice as well as intercultural philosophy. Thaler’s recent papers have been published in Diacrítica, European Journal of Political Theory and Philosophy & Social Criticism. He is also author, in German, of Moralische Politik oder politische Moral? Eine Analyse aktueller Debatten zur internationalen Gerechtigkeit. Frankfurt/New York: Campus, 2008.

Teresa Toldy

Teresa Toldy is a full time Associate Professor for Ethics at the University Fernando Pessoa in Porto. She obtained her BA in Theology from the Portuguese Catholic University, in Lisbon, and her PhD in Theology and Gender Studies from the Philosophisch-theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen (Frankfurt). Postdoctortoral research on religion, secularism and human rights of women. She has been an Assistant Professor of Theology at the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon. Currently her research interests include religion and gender studies; postcolonial theory; epistemology of knowledge; articulations between religion and politics; discourses and practices of citizenship in the universities; ethics in an intercultural perspective. She is involved in a research project at the University Fernando Pessoa on the impact of university careers on the discourses and practices of university students and on citizenship education. Among here recent journal publications are: (2011), "Outras crenças, outras consciências - a era do "Cisne Negro"?", Cons-ciências, 4, 197-207; (2011), "'Secularist Dreams' and 'Women’s Rights': Notes on an 'Ambiguous Relationship'", RCCS - Annual Review. An online journal for the social sciences and humanities, 3; (2010), "A violência e o poder da(s) palavra(s): a religião cristã e as mulheres", Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais, 89, 171-183; (2009), "Contributos da hermenêutica feminista para a(s) teologia(s)", Didaskalia - Revista da Faculdade de Teologia / Lisboa, 39, 2, 145-156; "Allah in Deutschland?: Representações da comunidade islâmica na revista Der Spiegel", Comunicação, Mídia e Consumo, V, 14, 33-53.


July 4: Secularism in a Comparative Perspective

Rajeev Bhargava

Secular states and their underlying ideology, political secularism, appear to be under siege everywhere. They were severely jolted with the establishment of the first modern theocracy in 1979 in Iran. By the late 1980s, Islamic political movements had emerged in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Chad, Senegal, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even in Bangladesh. Movements challenging secular states were hardly restricted to Muslim societies. Protestant movements decrying secularism emerged in Kenya, Guatemala and the Philippines. Protestant fundamentalism became a force in American politics. Singhalese Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka, Hindu nationalists in India, religious ultra-orthodoxy in Israel and Sikh nationalists in the state of Punjab in India, as well as among diasporic communities in Canada and Britain, began to question the separation of state and religion. Even the largely secular-humanist ethos of Western Europe did not remain untouched by this public challenge. The migration from former colonies and an intensified globalisation has thrown together on western public spaces pre-Christian faiths, Christianity and Islam . The cumulative result is unprecedented religious diversity, the weakening of public monopoly of single religions, and the generation of mutual suspicion, distrust, hostility and conflict. This is evident in Germany and Britain but was dramatically highlighted by the headscarf issue in France and the murder of film-maker Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands shortly after the release of his controversial film about Islamic culture.

But what precisely is the conception that is in crisis? The dominant self-understanding of secularism is that it is a universal doctrine requiring the strict separation (exclusion) of church/religion and state for the sake of individualistically conceived moral or ethical values. This self-understanding takes two forms, one inspired by an idealized version of the American model of separation and the other of the equally idealized French mode. I argue that both these available mainstream conceptions of western secularism are likely to meet neither the challenge of the vibrant public presence of religion nor of increasing religious diversity. In order to deal with this emergent diversity, the West must modify its conception either by going back in time and looking for resources in its own past or turning attention to other conceptions of secularism and patterns of religion State relationship developed outside the West. The model developed in the sub continent, especially in India, provides one such alternative conception. Without taking it as a blue print, the West must examine the Indian conception and possibly learn from it.



Alberta Giorgi

The history of notions such as secularization and laïcité is centuries old, and the debate on political secularism has been relevant throughout the history of social sciences. Indeed, several scholars have studied the way in which political secularism has been set in different historical and geographical contexts, identifying different paths and degrees of secularism, and mostly focusing on its normative level. Nowadays, given the huge changes affecting contemporary societies and politics, as well as the transformations of religions and religious attitudes, the notion of political secularism appears to be at stake. The lecture gives an overview of the theories of political secularism, (1) underlining the different criteria of analysis and classification scholars have used for analyzing the boundaries between religions and politics; and (2) highlighting the paths and the outcomes of empirical analysis of political secularism. In addition, specific attention is paid to (3) religious and (4) political changes, in order to explore the opportunities for further analysis. The aim of this lecture is to clarify the definition of political secularism in different disciplines and studies, to examine the empirical usefulness of this analytical category, and to analyze the open questions related to political secularism.


  1. Barbier, Maurice. “Towards a Definition of French Secularism.” Le Débat 134 (2005).
  2. Fox, Jonathan. “World Separation of Religion and State Into the 21st Century.” Comparative Political Studies 39, no. 5 (2006): 537-569.
  3. Haynes, Jeff. “Religion, Secularisation and Politics: A Postmodern Conspectus.” Third World Quarterly 18, no. 4 (1997): 709-728.
  4. Kettell, Steve. “On the Public Discourse of Religion: An Analysis of Christianity in the United Kingdom.” Politics and Religion 2, no. 3 (2009): 420-443.
  5. Minkenberg, Michael. “Church-State Regimes and Democracy in the West: Convergence vs. Divergence”. Reykjavik, 2011.


July 5: Gender and Religious Governance

Chia Longman

In this session we focus on the gendered dimension in theorizing religion in relation to cultural and ethnic diversity in contemporary Europe. Erstwhile neglected or marginalized in gender and feminist social and political theory, religion has returned to centre stage in the wake of what feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti had called the ‘postsecular turn’ in feminism. Formerly seen by many as antithetical to both liberal and more postmodern approaches regarding the question of women’s emancipation, recent work focuses on the agentic potentialities religious praxis and identity politics may hold for many women (and men) and as such, is challenging the idea that secular modernity automatically promises or is aligned with gender equality. Against this background, and from a comparative perspective, we take a closer look at the different ways in which the relationship between gender, religion and secularism is politically and ideologically being played out in contemporary culturally, religiously and ethnically diverse European nation-states. In particular we will focus on religious and secular body politics and sexuality (including veiling/hijab; honour-related violence and homonationalism).


  1. Coene, Gily, and Chia Longman. “Gendering the Diversification of Diversity: The Belgian Hijab (in) Question.” Ethnicities 8, no. 3 (2008): 302-321.
  2. Longman, Chia. “Sacrificing the Career or the Family? Orthodox Jewish Women between Secular Work and the Sacred Home.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 15, no. 3 (2008): 223-239.
  3. Mahmood, Saba. “Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival.” Cultural Anthropology 16, no. 2 (2001): 202-236.
  4. Reilly, Niamh. “rethinking the interplay of feminism and secularism in a neo-secular age.” Feminist Review 97 (2011): 5-31.


Teresa Toldy

Western discourses on secularization seem to be grounded in dichotomies between: “world” and “religion”, “reason” and “emotion”, “developed” and non-developed worlds”. One of the most important contributions of feminisms to the debate on these dichotomies has been and still is in its critical approach to the impact of these visions of reality upon the representations of women in culture, philosophy, politics and political science and theology. However, these critical approaches have not always taken into account the possibility of a critical reading of religion and of secularism both from within a religious and a secular-democratic perspective. In so doing, feminist criticism has sometimes repeated the same dichotomies it intended to deconstruct and to avoid. One of the objectives of feminist theologies is to contribute to overcoming the dichotomies emphasized in modern (also feminist) discourses on secularity and religion by reinterpreting the relevance of religion for the secular emancipation of women. In this session we will look into and discuss some texts both from Christian and Islamic feminists in order to understand their contributions to overcome dichotomies between religion and secular experiences and struggles for emancipation.


  1. Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schussler. “Method in Women’s Studies in Religion: A Critical Feminist Hermeneutics.” In Methodology in Religious Studies: The Interface with Women’s Studies, edited by Arvind Sharma, 207-241. McGill Studies in the History of Religions. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.
  2. ———. “Public Discourse, Religion, and Wo/men’s Struggles for Justice.” DePaul Law Review 51 (2002): 1077-1101.
  3. Pui-Lan, Kwok. “Feminist Theology, Southern.” In The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology, edited by Peter Scott and William T. Cavanaugh, 194-209. Blackwell Companions to Religion. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.


July 6: Democracy and Religious Pluralism

Veit Bader

My texts from 1999 and 2010 try to make plausible that and why we should drop "secularism" from our normative language, particularly when we discuss constitutional and legal issues, and replace it by Liberal-Democratic Constitutionalism. In the selected texts from 2003 and 2009 I focus more on institutional arrangements appropriate for accommodating wide and deep religious diversity. In a comparative institutionalist approach I try to show that "democratic institutional pluralism" generally, associational governance of religious diversity in particular have considerable advantages compared with existing "secularist/laicist" and "selective cooperation" regimes. The session should focus on a critical discussion of these proposals and check whether the most important "realist" objections can be met. If not, "associative democracy" would also remain one of the many utopias or dystopias not fit for the real world. In my presentation I will give a brief summary of the important realist objections and try to discuss them in a comparative perspective (based on chapter 9 of my book on Secularism or Democracy? (2007) "A realistic defence of associative democracy").


  1. Bader, Veit. “Constitutionalizing Secularism, Alternative Secularisms or Liberal-Democratic Constitutionalism: A Critical Reading of Some Turkish, ECtHR and Indian Supreme Court Cases on Secularism.” Utrecht Law Review 6, no. 3 (2010): 8-35.
  2. ———. “Governance of Religious Diversity: Research Problems and Policy Problems.” In International Migration and the Governance of Religious Diversity, edited by Paul Bramadat and Matthias Koenig, 43–72. Queen’s Policy Studies Series. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.
  3. ———. “Religious Diversity and Democratic Institutional Pluralism.” Political Theory 31, no. 2 (2003): 265-294.
  4. ———. “Religious Pluralism: Secularism or Priority for Democracy?” Political Theory 27, no. 5 (1999): 597-633.


Mathias Thaler

In this session we will look into recent debates in political philosophy on Rawlsian public reason, and how they have been influencing the conceptualizations of secularism in liberal political regimes. Special emphasis will be paid to the following questions: How is the state today supposed to deal with the claims of religious citizens? In what way can religious citizens articulate their concerns in the public sphere without endangering democracy? Should their contributions to the public sphere be translated into a generally accessible language? What kind of respect, if any, must non-believers cultivate when they are responding to, and engaging with, arguments exclusively grounded in religion? These and other issues will be discussed through a close reading of seminal texts that have invigorated the current debate. Further, an important goal of the session will be to contextualize theoretical interventions and expose the socio-political background against which they are formulated. To achieve this end, examples from contexts close to home shall be introduced so as to break the abstract reflections in the literature down to empirical tests.


  1. Ferrara, Alessandro. “The Separation of Religion and Politics in a Post-Secular Society.” Philosophy & Social Criticism 35, no. 1-2 (2009): 77-91.
  2. Laborde, Cécile. “Secular Philosophy and Muslim Headscarves in Schools.” The Journal of Political Philosophy 13, no. 3 (2005): 305-329.
  3. Mendieta, Eduardo. “A Postsecular World Society?: An Interview with Jürgen Habermas.” The Immanent Frame, February 3, 2010.
  4. Taylor, Charles. “The Polysemy of the Secular.” Social Research 76, no. 4 (2009): 1143-1166.
  5. Thaler, Mathias. “From Public Reason to Reasonable Accommodation: Negotiating the Place of Religion in the Public Sphere.” Diacrítica. Revista do Centro de Estudos Humanísticos da Universidade de Minho 23, no. 2 (2009): 249-270.
Please complete this questionnaire to apply for the summer school. In order to be considered as a participant you need to have at least completed a BA degree in a relevant discipline.
General information

How to Get to Lisbon

By plane

Lisboa International Airport, 7 km from the city centre, has daily flights to and from the major cities in Europe and the world.

By train

Scores of national and international trains arrive in Lisboa every day. In addition to Santa Apolónia terminal station, the city now has the new Gare do Oriente, which opened in 1998 adjacent to the Parque das Nações. Both stations have direct bus or underground connections to the city centre.

By road

Arriving in Lisboa by road is a pleasant experience, as the visitor can enjoy the beautiful countryside along the way. The city has good road accesses and the most frequently used routes are: the A1 motorway, the 25th April Bridge, the new Vasco da Gama Bridge, and the CREL, the outer ring-road for the Lisboa region.

How to Get around in Lisbon


The Lisbon underground has four major routes and connects most parts of the city well.


Available right outside the Arrival and Departure halls. The taxi voucher service at the Lisboa Airport is available to passengers arriving at Lisboa Airport who wish to travel by taxi. The service operates with vouchers on sale at the Turismo de Lisboa counter, located in the terminal. The price of the voucher depends on the distance of the trip or length of time, as well as on the type of service required: normal or personalized (in the former, the driver is trained to speak foreign languages and acts as tourist guide).

Where to Stay in Lisbon

More about hotels and pensions in Lisbon will appear soon!
Social programme
Besides the academic programme, the summer school will also offer a number of social activities. More about this shall follow soon!
Important dates

Deadline for Application: April 1, 2012

Notification of Acceptance: April 15, 2012

Deadline for Registration: June 1, 2012

Deadline for Circulating Papers: June 15, 2012