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Endowed by their Creator: Human Rights and Religion in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Online Workshop, Durham University 23 September 2022
Recent debates in the Humanities and Social Sciences have highlighted again and again that the separation of religion and modern politics is more permeable than often postulated: this workshop seeks to examine the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history of human rights, which was inextricably intertwined with religious language and/or values. The debates around human rights are notoriously challenging and multifaceted, as they revolve around different theories of their genesis, application, reach, and justification; moreover, various concepts of natural law, legality, sacrality, recognition, and dignity underpin and drive these discussions. The workshop will look at human rights narratives and discourses which emerge in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. We investigate the pertinent rhetorical strategies, discourses, narratives as well as semantic shifts in fictional and non-fictional German-speaking texts during that time: how do these texts juxtapose, merge, synthesize, and deconstruct the notion of rights and religion in the context of, for example, emerging concepts of sovereignty; religious freedom within and beyond German territories (the latter in the context of emigration); the global context and the system of slavery; notions of race; definitions of human beings and humanity; German abolitionism; the reception of the American and French Revolution; the coalition wars and the Napoleonic occupation; political rights in the Vormärz etc.; the performativity of the law; the juxtaposition of procedures vs. rituals etc. Please send short proposals (200-300 words) for 20-minute papers to the organizers email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 July 2022.