This volume examines both historical developments and contemporary expressions of blasphemy across the world. The transgression of religious boundaries incurs more or less severe sanctions in various religious traditions. This book looks at how religious and political authorities use ideas about blasphemy as a means of control. In a globalised world where people of different faiths interact more than ever before and world-views are an increasingly important part of identity politics, religious boundaries are a source of controversy.
The book goes beyond many others in this field by widening its scope beyond the legal aspects of freedom of expression. Approaching blasphemy as effective speech, the chapters in this book focus on real-life situations and ask the following questions: who are the blasphemers, who are their accusers and what does blasphemy accomplish? Utilising case studies from Europe, the Middle East and Asia that encompass a wide variety of faith traditions, the book guides readers to a more nuanced appreciation of the historical roots, political implications and religious rationale of attitudes towards blasphemy.
Incorporating historical and contemporary approaches to blasphemy, this book will be of great use to academics in Religious Studies and the Sociology of Religion as well as Political Science, Media Studies, History.
Table of Contents
PART I: Background – theoretical reflections and historical discussions
1. Blasphemies compared. An overview
2. The sacred and the secular
3. Destruction. Distortion. Distraction. Three theoretical perspectives on blasphemy
4. Blasphemy as transgressive speech, a natural history
5. Defining blasphemy in medieval Europe: Christian theology, law, and practice
MARTHA G. NEWMAN
6. Blasphemy through British (post) colonial eyes. The Indian Criminal Code: from a history of sustained paternalism to the genesis of hate crime
7. From ‘blasphemy’ to ‘hate speech’: changing perceptions of ‘insulting god’
8. Blasphemy in Islamic tradition
9. The OIC and the United Nations: framing blasphemy as a human rights violation
HEINI Í SKORINI
PART II: Case studies
10. Blasphemy and the cultivation of religious sensibilities in post-2011 Egypt
MONIKA LINDBEKK AND BASSAM BAHGAT
11. The Hindus on trial. Blasphemy charges and the study of Hinduism
12. How blasphemy became an anachronism. Free thought and the media market in late nineteenth-century Scandinavia
13. The state and the construction of the ‘blasphemer’ in Bangladesh
MUBASHAR HASAN AND ARILD ENGELSEN RUUD
14. The politics of blasphemy in Indonesia
CECILIE ENDRESEN AND CAROOL KERSTEN
15. Buddha, monks and the minor role of blasphemy within the economy of indignation in Sri Lanka
16. Blasphemy and images: depiction and representation in Islamic texts and practices. Two Muslim cases
17. From Pussy Riot’s punk-prayer to Matilda: orthodox believers, critique and religious freedom in Russia
DMITRY UZLANER AND KRISTINA STOECKL
Anne Stensvold is Professor of the Study of Religion at IKOS (Institute of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages), University of Oslo, where she heads Religion and Value Politics research group. Among her recent publications is the edited volume Religion, State and the United Nations. Value Politics. Routledge, 2017.