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Democracy and Religious Pluralism

February 12, 2016 @ 8:00 am - February 13, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

“Democracy and Religious Pluralism,” a two-day conference at Columbia University, will bring together academics, journalists and politicians working on nations that have historically faced the challenge of fashioning democratic institutions in societies with long-standing religious traditions: India, Pakistan, Turkey and Senegal. We will begin a conversation on two issues of contemporary and historical significance. First, we intend to question how these nations have negotiated the balance between the claims of religious groups and modern democratic institutions. We hope to identify the terms and bounds of this negotiation across many different spheres of the respective societies in question including law, intellectual history, and politics. Second, we will critically examine democratically elected regimes that pose challenges to pluralism and coexistence. We intend to provoke critical dialogue between scholars, journalists, and politicians in order to facilitate an exchange from which change can occur.

The conference will include panels and conversations on topics such as: state and religion in historical perspective, religious pluralism and the state, religious pluralism and law, democracy and violence against minorities, and everyday exclusion.

The conference program is below.  This schedule is subject to change; please check back for updates.

This event will now take place in Jerome Greene Hall, rooms 101 & 105, at 435 West 116th Street.  Directions to Jerome Greene Hall are available here.
For accessibility information, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or disability@columbia.edu, or see Columbia University’s accessibility map here.

Democracy and Religious Pluralism
India, Pakistan, and Turkey

12 February – 101 Jerome Greene Hall

Breakfast and Registration

Opening Remarks by Karen Barkey

Panel 1: State and Religion in Historical Perspective
Chair: Karen Barkey, Columbia University
Manan Ahmed, Columbia University
Koray Çalışkan, Boğaziçi University
Faisal Devji, University of Oxford
Uday Mehta, CUNY Graduate Center

Keynote by Mehdi Hasan, Al Jazeera


Panel 2: Religious Pluralism and the State
Chair: Katherine Pratt Ewing
Ateş Altınordu, Sabancı Üniversitesi
Rochana Bajpai, SOAS
Humeira Iqtidar, King’s College London
Arafaat Valiani, University of Oregon

Panel 3: Religious Pluralism and Law
Chair: Kent Greenawalt, Columbia Law School
Fatima Bokhari, Harvard University
Mathew John, Jindal Global Law School
Ozan Varol, Lewis & Clark Law School


13 February – 105 Jerome Greene Hall


Panel 4: Democracy and Violence
Chair: Alfred Stepan, Columbia University
Yeşim Arat, Boğaziçi University
Amrita Basu, Amherst College
Sudipta Kaviraj, Columbia University

Panel 5: Everyday Exclusion
Chair: Sen. Sherry Rehman
Nosheen Ali, Habib University
Senem Aslan, Bates College
Yasmin Saikia, Arizona State University
Sadia Saeed, Boston University


Keynote Roundtable:
Suat Kınıklıoğlu, STRATIM Ankara
Ravish Kumar, NDTV India
Basharat Peer, Journalist and Author
Sen. Sherry Rehman, Jinnah Institute
Tolga Tanış, Hürriyet
Mehdi Hasan, Al Jazeera

Reception – open to the public.


This conference is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life.



February 12, 2016 @ 8:00 am
February 13, 2016 @ 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Jerome Greene Hall, Room 101
435 W 116th St
New York, NY 10027 United States
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