Category Archives: News

IRCPL in France


IRCPL Director Karen Barkey and Advisory Committee members Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Sudipta Kaviraj, and Nadia Urbinati recently traveled to Lyon, France to participate in a series of conversations with other thinkers, artists, and public figures as part of Villa Gillet’s Mode d’emploi — A Festival of Ideas.

In conjunction with the event, Professor Barkey published an essay, “Sketch for a Discussion on Tolerance,” in Le Huffington Post and spoke to Forum French Culture about the idea in Hapsburg, Russian, French, and Ottoman history. Listen to the complete interview here.

Karen Barkey at RFIProfessor Barkey also spoke with Radio France Internationale about “living in a plural society.”  Listen to the complete interview here.

Villa Gillet recorded other events, still in preparation. Check back here for updates as they become available.

Living in and under Jakarta’s streets

Saskia Schaefer portrait

Saskia Schäfer, IRCPL Post-Doctoral Researcher, reviews Daniel Ziv’s feature-length documentary Jalanan for New Mandala and places it within the context of Indonesia’s turbulent political climate.

Schäfer writes, “Listening: this is what makes Daniel Ziv’s depiction of these three urban poor so effective. He doesn’t speak for them, he doesn’t put them on display, and he doesn’t romanticize or pity them. He just listens to them and lets them speak.”

Read the full article in New Mandala at


New from CUP: Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites

IRCPL publication - Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites book cover

Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Conflict Reslution is out this month from Columbia University Press.  Edited by Karen Barkey and Elazar Barkan, this collection explores the dynamics of shared religious sites in Turkey, the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, and Algeria, indicating where local and national stakeholders maneuver between competition and cooperation, coexistence and conflict. Contributors probe the notion of coexistence and the logic that underlies centuries of “sharing,” exploring when and why sharing gets interrupted—or not—by conflict, and the policy consequences.

More information about this book and all of the books in the Religion and Culture in Public Life series from Columbia University Press is available on our website or at

Video and Text of Rached Ghannouchi’s Talk Now Available

Rached Ghannouchi event photo

Rached Ghannouchi, co-founder and president of the Ennahdah Movement, spoke on “Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World” on Wednesday, October 1 at the Italian Academy. Full text of his talk is now available here.

This event was sponsored by the IRCPL and co-sponsored by the World Leaders Forum, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, and the Middle East Institute.

Professor Mamadou Diouf awarded French Legion of Honor

IRCPL faculty news - photo of Professor Diouf receiving the French Legion of Honor award

The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (IRCPL) congratulates Professor Mamadou Diouf on his being awarded the insignia of the Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honor at the French embassy in New York on September 22nd. France honored Professor Diouf for his role in engaging students from around the world in dialogue and debate about history and the present. Sony Pictures Classics co-founders and co-presidents, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, were also honored at the event.  The award was presented by the French Minister, Laurent Fabius, who said, “These individuals are breaking down the barriers of national borders and creating bridges between intellectual and cultural spheres while also enriching a transcontinental cultural dialogue.”

The order of the Legion of Honor is the highest award bestowed by the French government. The national order was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize outstanding achievement in the military as well as public and private sectors. Recipients are named by decree and signed by the President of the Republic. The Legion of Honor may be awarded to foreign citizens, though such recognition is relatively rare. Previous honorees include Bob Dylan, Walt Disney, and Toni Morrison.

For more information on this distinguished order see La grande chancellerie (French).

Karen Barkey interviewed for the BBC’s “The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Emperors”

IRCPL faculty - Karen Barkey BBC interview image

In the BBC’s three-part series,”The Ottomans,” Rageh Omaar examines the history of the Ottoman Empire. IRCPL Director Karen Barkey, an expert in toleration and religion in the Ottoman Empire, was interviewed for the program.

“Religious extremism has given us this image of Islam as intolerant,” Barkey says.  “So the Ottoman Empire is a very good example of tolerant Islam for a very long time.  On the other hand, the end of the Ottoman Empire was horrendous – where massacres happened, where populations were eliminated.”

More information on the series, including a schedule of future showings, is available at

Josef Sorett Named New IRCPL Associate Director


The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life is excited to announce that Josef Sorett will serve as Associate Director beginning July 2014.

Professor Sorett, Assistant Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University, is already an active member of the IRCPL board and a co-organizer of the Religion and Culture in American Public Life lecture series for 2014-15.  He is an interdisciplinary historian of religion in America, with a particular focus on black communities and cultures in the United States. His research and teaching interests include American religious history; African American religions; hip hop, popular culture, and the arts; gender and sexuality; and the role of religion in public life. Professor Sorett earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University and an M.Div. from Boston University. In support of his research, Josef has received fellowships from the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, The Fund for Theological Education, Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for American History, and Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. He has published essays and reviews in Culture and Religion, Callaloo, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and PNEUMA: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Josef’s current book project, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (under contract with Oxford University Press) illumines how religion has figured into debates about black art and culture. He is also editing a volume that explores the sexual politics of black churches.