Global Epistemological Politics of Religion (GLOREL)

The Global Epistemological Politics of Religion (GLOREL) research group explores concepts and debates informing contemporary social and political theory and practice concerning the dynamics and relations between religion, politics and order. Through the detailed study of various cases we explore the histories and political logics of various attempts to conceptualise and institutionalise social, religious and cultural difference, including the rule of law, the practices of knowledge and non-knowledge, and the recognition and protection of religious minorities. Questions to be discussed include: How does modern law and political practice regulate the spaces within which individuals and groups live out their cultural and religious lives? What are the histories and politics of modern constructs of religion in relation to the nation, technology and across different networks? The group is explicitly interdisciplinary drawing social and political theory, global politics, anthropology, history, and sociology of religion, and law.

If you are interested in attending GLOREL's sessions, please contact the RG convener, Dr. Maria Birnbaum (

March 25, 2:00 pm UK Time

An Yountae The Coloniality of the Secular. Race, Religion, and Poetics of World-Making, Duke University Press

May 28, 2:00 pm UK Time

Purohit, Teena. 2023. Sunni Chauvinism and the Roots of Muslim Modernism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

June 19, 2:00 pm UK Time

Balkan, Osman. 2023. Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press

For every session a scholar from the team choses a reading and leads the following discussion. Places are limited to ensure small group discussion, so please email the RG leader, Maria Birnbaum ( to register and receive the reading and Zoom link.

Tuesday 18 October 2022 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Maria Birnbaum (Bern)

Richland, Justin B. 2021. Cooperation without Submission: Indigenous Jurisdictions in Native Nation-US Engagements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Friday 11 November 2022 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Amelie Barras (York)

Amir-Moazami, Schirin. 2022. Interrogating Muslims: The Liberal-Secular Matrix of Integration. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Tuesday 6 December 2022 | 19:00-20:30 UK Time
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (Northwestern)

Blankholm, Joseph. 2022. The Secular Paradox: On the Religiosity of the Not Religious. New York: New York University Press.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 | 13:00-14:30 UK Time
Elina Hartikainen (University of Helsinki)

McIvor, Méadhbh. 2020. Representing God: Christian Legal Activism in Contemporary England. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Thursday 9 March 2023 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (Northwestern)

Oliphant, Elayne. 2021. The Privilege of Being Banal: Art, Secularism, and Catholicism in Paris. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press.

Tuesday 18 April 2023 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Iza Hussin (Cambridge)

High, Holly (ed.). 2022. Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia. Singapore: NUS Press.

Tuesday 16 May 2023 | 17:00-18:30 UK Time
Joseph Blankholm (UC Santa Barbara)

Farman, Abou. 2020. On Not Dying: Secular Immortality in the Age of Technoscience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Monday 19 June 2023 | 10:00-18:00 CET

Workshop at CERI, Sciences Po Paris: Global Epistemological Politics of Religion: Works in Progress

Speakers: Marian Birnbaum (Bern), Iza Hussin (Cambridge), Yolande Jansen (Amsterdam), Nadia Marzouki (Sciences Po), and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (Northwestern).

Throughout the spring a scholar from the team choses a reading and leads the following discussion. Places are limited to ensure small group discussion, so please email to register.

Monday 14 March 2022 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (Northwestern)

Crosson, J. Brent. 2020. Experiments with Power: Obeah and the Remaking of Religion in Trinidad. Chicago ; London: The University of Chicago Press.
Preface and introduction.

Monday 25 April 2022 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Maria Birnbaum (Bern)

Chua, Liana, 2012: Anthropological perspectives on ritual and religious ignorance, in: Handbook of Ignorance Studies, Routledge, 247-255.

High, Casey, 2012: Between Knowing and Being: Ignorance in Anthropology and Amazonian Shamanism, in: The Anthropology of Ignorance, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 119-135

Wednesday 11 May 2022 | 14:00-15:30 UK Time
Iza Hussin (Cambridge)

Sevea, Teren. 2020. Miracles and Material Life: Rice, Ore, Traps and Guns in Islamic Malaya. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press.

Session Four: Postponed – a new date will be made available shortly
Nadia Marzouki (SciencesPo)

Osanloo, Arzoo. 2020. Forgiveness Work: Mercy, Law, and Victims’ Rights in Iran. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Maria Birnbaum is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bern. She received her PhD in International Relations from the European University Institute (EUI) and works in the fields of Global Politics, Religious Studies, and Colonial History. Her work studies the relationship between diversity and order with a particular focus on religion and global politics.

Maria Birnbaum is currently part of the project 'Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies' at the University of Bern where she is working on a series of articles exploring

1) The conditions and limits of liberal diversity governance ('The costs of recognition'), and

2) The entangled history and politics of Israel and Pakistan.

She is also finalising a book manuscript titled Becoming Recognizable, analysing arguments for the recognition of religion in global politics. Here she shows how attempts to conceptualise, institutionalise, and manage social and religious difference in South Asia and the Middle East shaped the state-making processes of Pakistan and Israel and the conflicts following them. She argues that recognition along the lines of religion – in terms of border making, representation, or demography – came with considerable costs.


Image: 'Two Black Birds' by Merry Zar via Pexels. License.