Friday, June 06, 2014

Video of Saba Mahmood's lecture on "Religious Liberty, the Minority Problem and Geopolitics"

by Salman Hameed

If you are interested in the question of human rights and religious minorities, then do check out this lecture by Saba Mahmood. She starts by providing a historical context for the origin(s) of this discourse, and its use and misuse for political reasons. For example, she points to the US (around 17 minutes in) for championing equal rights for all individuals, while at the same time refusing equal rights to African Americans. But she then spends a large portion of her talk on the case of Egypt, and the case of Coptic Christians in Egypt (in fact, check out the bit about the shifting identity of Coptic Christians in Egypt, about 26 minutes in). Towards the end of her talk, she makes an interesting point that the construction of a "minority" itself, creates a sense of being an outsider, which in turn can lead to hostility against the minority. But there clearly is tension as it is the majorities that also creates such conditions. She doesn't necessarily provide a clear-cut solution, but at least she provides with a set of questions, or as she puts it, "at least we should try to understand how the current system got established". With Q&A, the whole session is about an hour and twenty minutes, and I think it is worth your time if you are interested in the topic.

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