Istanbul Seminars 2016
Bilgi University

The title of the Istanbul Seminars 2016 is Religion, Rights and the Public Sphere. While religiously inspired social movements, political parties, and charity institutions make an important contribution to society in terms of civil life and social cohesion, every religion can also play a negative role in radicalizing identities, in making compromises more difficult, and provoking violence and wars. Today it is evident that religious traditions can be a double-edged sword in the Muslim world, where democratization and modernization processes risk being obstructed by radical Islam, terrorism and the escalation of the Shia-Sunni conflict. This situation raises important questions with regard to what makes religions contribute to the foundations and legitimacy of democracy and, on the contrary, why at times religions become a source of extremism and intolerance.

What is the connection between religious radicalism and the colonial and postcolonial legacy? Is radical Islam a consequence of imposed and fragile state-building processes hijacked by secular authoritarian regimes or vice versa? Can it be explained by the collapse of nationalist and socialist ideologies or by underdevelopment and inequalities? Do religious doctrines cause the radicalization of identities quite autonomously and independently from the political and social context? Accordingly, the Istanbul Seminars 2016 will discuss how much religious pluralism is a matter of politics, law and the economy and to what extent it also concerns theology.


9th Istanbul Seminars 2016
Philosophers Bridge the Bosphorus

Religion, Rights and the Public Sphere


İstanbul Bilgi University | Santral Campus
Kazım Karabekir Cad. No: 2/13 – İstanbul
Conference Room: E1-301

Tuesday, 24 May
10.00 am – 10.15 am

Mehmet Durman, Rector of Bilgi University: Opening
Giancarlo Bosetti, Director of Reset-Dialogues: Introduction

10.15 am – 11.00 am
Nilüfer Göle: Personal in the Public Space: Empowerment or Vulnerability?

11.20 am – 1.00 pm
Mohd Eiadat: Islamic Thought and the Public Sphere: A Synthesis
Patrick Weil: Revocation of Nationality and Sense of the Republic
Chair: Murat Borovalı

2.00 pm – 3.25 pm
Can Cemgil: Beyond Theology and Culture: The Persistent Appeal of Islamic Radicalism from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State
Fabio Petito: Religion and World Order in the 21st Century: Zooming out on Religious Violence and World Disorder
Chair: Ömer Turan

3.30 pm – 4.40 pm
ROUNDTABLE: Islam, Conflict and Radicalization
Speakers: Mohd Eiadat, Ebrahim Moosa (in video), Fabio Petito, Patrick Weil
Chair: Cengiz Aktar

4.30 pm: Workshop with Discussion Groups for Young Scholars


Wednesday, 25 May

10.00 am – 12.10 pm
Camil Ungureanu: Nihilism, Religion, and Humour in Michel Houellebecq
Boyan Znepolski: Unveiling Some Religious Motives in Contemporary Social Critique
Rajeev Bhargava: The Implicit Theology of Religious Pluralism
Chair: Volker Kaul

12.15 pm – 1.00 pm
Silvio Ferrari: The Danger of Compartmentalization. An Analysis of the Relationship between Theology and Politics Through the Prism of Freedom of Religion
Chair: Debora Tonelli

2.00 pm – 3.25 pm
Ahmet Murat Aytaç & Bahar Şimşek: Life Style and Rights: A Neo-Secular Conception of Human Dignity
Andreas Koller: Regime Variation, Religion and the Public Sphere: The Macro-Spatial Formation of Institutionalized Uncertainty

Chair: İlay Romain Örs

3.30 pm – 5.00 pm
ROUNDTABLE: Discussion of Michael Walzer’s “The Paradox Of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions”
Introduction: Michael Walzer (in video)
Rajeev Bhargava, Nilüfer Göle, Amr HamzawyAnanya Vajpeyi
Replies by Michael Walzer (in video)
Chair: Giancarlo Bosetti

5.00 pm: Workshop with Discussion Groups for Young Scholars


Thursday, 26 May

10.00 am – 12.30 pm
Murat Akan: Institutions on Thin Ice: The Politics of Religious Arguments and Narratives
Cristina Lafont: Citizens in Robes: The Place of Religion in Constitutional Democracies
David Rasmussen: The Question of Legitimacy: Constitutionalism and Comprehensive Doctrines
Chair: Albena Azmanova

1.30 pm – 3.00 pm
Nancy Okail: The Role of Religion in Governance in Egypt
Amr Hamzawy: Egypt’s Illiberal Liberals
Chair: Mohammed Hashas

3.05 pm – 4.45 pm
ROUNDTABLE: Immigration and Turkey-EU Relationships
Lecture:Seyla Benhabib, Global Refugee Crisis
Speakers: Fuat Keyman, Patrick Weil
Chair: Alessandro Ferrara

4.50 pm: Common Workshop for all Discussion Groups for Young Scholars on Refugee Law conducted by Seyla Benhabib. Guest: Eleni Takou (Solidarity Now, Greece).


Friday, 27 May

10.00 am – 11.50 am
Mikhail Ilyin: Any Way to Avoid Massacres de la Saint-Barthélemy in the Middle East and Elsewhere? Insights from Evolutionary Morphology
Reading of Zygmunt Bauman‘s paper on Strongmen’s (or Strongwomen’s) Trails
Chair: Cemil Boyraz

12.00 pm – 1.00 pm
ROUNDTABLE: Reflections on the US Presidential Elections
Speakers: Mustafa Akyol, Mikhail Ilyin, Jim Sleeper
Chair: Seyla Benhabib

2.05 pm – 3.30 pm
Ohannes Kılıçdağı: The Non-Religious Public Roles of the Armenian Clergy in the Ottoman Millet System: From the Late Ottoman Era to the Republic
Mustafa Akyol: Lessons about Islamism after the Turkish Experience
Chair: Lea Nocera

3.35 pm – 4.35 pm
Presentations of the Discussion Groups: (1) Religious and Identity Conflicts, (2) Radicalization of Identities in Europe, (3) Religious Wars in the Middle East, (4) Religion and the Public Sphere in Turkey


Saturday, 28 May

10.00 am – 10.45 am
Maeve Cooke: Unintelligble! Inaccessible! Unacceptable! Are Religious Truth Claims a Problem for Liberal Democracies?
Chair: David Rasmussen

10.50 am – 12.10 pm
ROUNDTABLE: Religious and Identity Conflicts in the Middle East
Mustafa Akyol, Manuel Castells, Nancy Okail, Soli Özel
Chair: Asaf Savaş Akat

12.10 pm – 1.10 pm
Manuel Castells: The Failure of the European Dream: Political Unification Without Shared Identity in a Multicultural Europe
Chair: Jim Sleeper

1.15 pm
Murat Borovalı and Giancarlo Bosetti: Closing


Workshops are conducted by Mohammed Hashas (Religious Wars in the Middle East), Volker Kaul (Religious and Identity Conflicts), Mura Palasek & Debora Tonelli (Radicalization of Identities in Europe) and Meysam Badamchi (Religion and the Public Sphere in Turkey).


The program may be subject to change.  Please check  for updated information.

The Seminars are free and open to All

Confirmed Speakers:

Participants: Murat Akan, Asaf Savaş Akat, Cengiz Aktar, Mustafa Akyol, Ahmet Murat Aytaç, Albena Azmanova, Zygmunt Bauman, Rajeev Bhargava, Seyla Benhabib, Murat Borovali, Giancarlo Bosetti, Cemil Boyraz, Manuel Castells, Can Cemgil, Maeve Cooke, Mehmet Durman, Mohd Eiadat, Alessandro Ferrara, Silvio Ferrari, Nilüfer Göle, Amr Hamzawy, Mikhail Ilyin, Aleksandra Kania, Fuat Keyman, Ohannes Kılıçdağı, Andreas Koller, Veysi Kondu, Cristina Lafont, Ebrahim Moosa (in video), Nancy Okail, İlay Romain Örs, Soli Özel, Fabio Petito, David Rasmussen, Jim Sleeper, Bahar Şimşek, Ömer Turan, Camil Ungureanu, Ananya Vajpeyi, Michael Walzer (in video), Patrick Weil, Boyan Znepolsky.



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