Religion is secularized tradition: Jewish and Muslim circumcisions in Germany

Lena Salaymeh, Visiting Associate Research Scholar, History and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:00pm
Event Category: 
By Invitation Only

This is a series of informal workshop sessions for papers in progress. Each is by invitation only and is an RSVP event.

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Abstract:  "This article was co-written with Shai Lavi. It is an exploration of contemporary law & religion issues that explains how secular legal reasoning, at a broad and abstract level, regulates Islamic and Jewish traditions by limiting them within three nodes. Comprised of individual belief, a divinely ordained legal code, and public threat, we refer to these three nodes as the “secularization triangle.” The secularization triangle signifies not the separation of state from religion; rather, quite to the contrary, the secularization triangle clarifies how state law construes (or rather misconstrues) traditions as “religions.” Instead of accommodating traditions, states control religions. The article’s case study is the recent controversy surrounding circumcision in Germany."

Lena Salaymeh
Visiting Associate Research Scholar, History and the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies
Tel Aviv Law School

Lena Salaymeh, Associate Professor at Tel Aviv Law, is on leave at Princeton's Davis Center during the 2018-2019 academic year. She researches and teaches Islamic and Jewish jurisprudence in both historical and contemporary legal systems. Her book, The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explores how critical historiography can illuminate Islamic legal beginnings and was awarded the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Textual Studies. She has published in Law and History ReviewLaw & Social Inquiry, Islamic Law & Society, Journal of Legal Education, and The Immanent Frame. Her forthcoming publications use critical feminist theory and critical secularism studies to examine contemporary controversies about law and religion. She earned her PhD in Legal and Middle Eastern History from UC Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School; she is a member of the California Bar.


Peter Danchin
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Peter Danchin is professor of law and co-director of the International and Comparative Law Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. His scholarship focuses on competing conceptions of the right to freedom of religion and belief in international legal theory and on tensions between liberal and value pluralist approaches. From 2000 to 2006 he served as director of the human rights program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He has also been a fellow at the Center for Theological Inquiry and University of Cape Town. Danchin's publications include, among others, Protecting the Human Rights of Religious Minorities in Eastern Europe (2002) and "The Emergence and Structure of Religious Freedom in International Law Reconsidered" (Journal of Law and Religion, 2008). He also is a scholar with the Henry R. Luce Foundation-funded "Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Norms and Local Practices" project. Danchin earned a B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Melbourne and LL.M. and JSD from Columbia Law School.