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CEGP is organizing an international conference in Amsterdam (December 16th, 2016).

Please, see the details below:

Amsterdam, December 16th, 2016

Spaces of Tolerance?

The Politics and Geopolitics of Religious Freedom in Europe

 International Conference of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, ACCESS EUROPE, in collaboration with the Center for Ethics and Global Politics (CEGP) LUISS, 


Luiza Bialasiewicz, ACCESS EUROPE (UvA, Amsterdam)

Valentina Gentile, CEGP (LUISS, Rome)

 The EU’s current ‘existential crisis’ has brought the question of the role of religion and religious ideologies to the centre of debates, both regarding the future of the Union itself as a political community, but also pertinent to the conditions and potential limits to liberal democracy in its Member States. Although the debate on the appropriate place for religious ideologies and practices has taken on different tones and different gravity in various EU countries, key questions regarding the state’s role in deciding the place of religion and religious freedom in the public and private spheres and, especially, the limits of liberal toleration and appropriate responses to religious fundamentalism have been common themes across the continent. Moreover, what have thus far been in many ways ‘internal’ discussions pertaining to the negotiation of religious accommodation and the place of religion in the public realm, have now taken on not only a ‘European’ dimension in their breadth. Indeed, religion and religious ideologies are being increasingly perceived as both an ‘internal’ and ‘external’ security threat. This growing securitization of religion in many EU states is raising new questions about the relationship between religion and liberal democracy, as the relationship of state actors to religious practice and ideas is increasingly one of the delimitation of borders. We adopt the notion of ‘spaces of tolerance’ in both its figurative meaning – as realms of possibility within the liberal democratic order for religious practice and belief – but also in its material sense, that is, as the real, physical spaces where these negotiations take place.     

The conference aims to contribute to these debates by providing an inter-disciplinary and cross-national perspective on the challenges of negotiating the boundaries of political tolerance within the European Union today, focusing in particular on how spaces of tolerance are negotiated. The conference will frame its discussions within three broad themes:

1) the changing (legal and political) contexts of tolerance in the EU

2) the geopolitics of religious difference (examining the links between religion and securitization, both internal as well as external) and

3) the everyday negotiation of religious difference and tolerance in urban spaces

Conference Programme


De Burcht Conference Centre, de Bondsraadzaal, Henri Polaklaan 9, Amsterdam.


 9:00                Opening and introduction

Jonathan Zeitlin (Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, on behalf of ACCESS EUROPE)

Luiza Bialasiewicz (Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam) and Valentina Gentile (Department of Political Science, LUISS, Rome)


9:30-11:00      Session I: Changing contexts of tolerance in the EU


Valentina Gentile (Department of Political Science, LUISS, Rome)


Peter Jones (School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University) “The Space for Toleration in a Liberal Democratic Society”

Lorenzo Zucca (School of Law, King’s College, London) “In the Ghetto: Spaces of Justice in the Merchant of Venice”

Jonathan Seglow (Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London) “Defending Religious Accommodation”


John Horton (Faculty of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment, Keele University)


 11:00-11:30    Coffee Break


11:30-13:00    Session II: Geopolitics of religious difference


Domenico Melidoro (Department of Political Science, LUISS, Rome)


Yolande Jansen (Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam) “Burqas in Balbec: some elements for a genealogy of the intertwinement of securitization and racialization of religion in the tradition of tolerance”

Lynn Staeheli (Department of Geography, Durham University) “Faith, cosmopolitanism and democratic tolerance”

Sune Laegaard (Department of Communication and Arts, Roskilde University) “Religious toleration at home and abroad: Justifications, uses and ramifications of religious freedom in national and transnational perspectives”


Thijl Sunier (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


13:00-14:30    Lunch

14:30-16:00    Session III: Everyday spaces of tolerance


Silvia Mocchi (Department of Political Science, LUISS, Rome)


Avi Astor (Department of Sociology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona) “Cordoba’s Mosque-Cathedral and the politics of patrimony”

Dan Swanton (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh) “Infrastructures for living with difference”

Aga Pasieka (The Institute for Human Sciences, University of Vienna) “Religious pluralism in a homogeneous society”


Luiza Bialasiewicz (Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam) 


 16:00-16:30 Coffee break


16:30-17:30    Closing discussion


Valentina Gentile (Department of Political Sciences, LUISS, Rome)


John Horton (Faculty of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment, Keele University); Sebastiano Maffettone (Department of Political Science, LUISS, Rome); Annelies Moors (Department of Sociology, University of Amsterdam)

For further queries regarding the academic programme, please contact

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