The Battle for Meaning: Christians and Muslims at Odds over Indonesian Constitutionalism


The abortion debate in Indonesia is a fitting illustration of the global trend toward liberalization of access to abortion across the world. In Indonesia, this phenomenon cannot be separated from the constitutional reform that took place more than a decade ago. This phenomenon immediately raises a question of how Muslims and Christians will respond to the new notion of constitutionalism. Read the full article »

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ACI Africa – Pentecostal Pastors and the Crisis of Political Authority in Africa


Since January of this year, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Nigeria has hosted Divine Encounter and Shiloh Hour, a special monthly ministration and prayer service, in Abuja, the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory (FCT). April’s version of Divine Encounter took place in the city’s 60,000 capacity National Stadium complex against a backdrop of a prolonged fuel scarcity that virtually crippled social life and economic activities across the country. Read the full article »

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Introducing ACI Africa


In its broad conception the Authority, Community, and Identity (ACI) Research project is about Africa’s complex modernities. Modernity is not one thing (see, for example, Eisentadt’s multiple modernities thesis). African individuals and communities find themselves at the intersection of multiple modern, global, local, traditional, secular and religious forces. Read the full article »

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Introducing ACI Indonesia


After a careful process of selecting the core research team, the Contending Modernities Authority, Community, and Identity (ACI) working group on Indonesia formally launched last year to begin a three-year research project to better understand the complex issues facing plural societies and to foster possible collaborations among various actors, religious and secular, at different levels: local and global, individuals and communities. Read the full article »

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Global migration and the new cosmopolitanism: new reports, workshop, and film

The ambition of Contending Modernities is to bring academic research into dialogue with policy-making and grassroots practice. Its east London research project – with the Contextual Theology Centre (CTC) – is focused on the ways that community organising enables diverse communities to work together to discern and promote a common good. As well as producing research papers, it is generating a number of resources for the wider community.

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Defining feminisms, upholding equality


Paola Bernardini rightly points out that one must be wary of the term “Western feminism.” Likewise, “Islamic feminism” is often taken by observers to mean any gender thinking and practice advocated by Muslim women — who are blithely labeled “Islamic feminists.” But such so-called “Islamic feminism” typically represents a patriarchal version of Islam, albeit mainly a “soft patriarchy” in which complementarity overrides equality. Read the full article »

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The theistic meaning of morality


An exciting feature of the Contending Modernities project is the way it links the academic with the deeply practical. In east London, the project has enabled us to develop new resources for Muslim engagement in public life — something I blogged about back in August. And we are currently conducting wider research on the way faiths work together to discern and promote the common good. It is also helping us to look at some apparently very abstract issues — including the relationship between morality and metaphysics — and show their relevance to the debates around faith in public life. Read the full article »

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Woman and her complementary relationship to man


In response to the stirring invitation issued by Paola Bernardini to offer a theological account of the complementarity of women and men “without jeopardizing their equality,” I would like to take a close look at both the complementary relationship and equality of the sexes from a biblical perspective. To do so, I would like to begin at the beginning, as it were, with the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman.

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Debating the status of women in Tunisia


As noted in a previous post on the Contending Modernities blog by Michael Driessen, post-authoritarian Tunisia has become the site of fascinating debate between contending modernities — one being self-consciously Islamist and democratic and the other being assertively secular and liberal. One battlefield where the conflict is currently fiercest is the status of women.

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Beyond the myth of Western-Muslim clash


Since the rise of so-called “Western civilization” and “modernity,” the relationship between “the West” and the “Muslim world” is highly dynamic and unpredictable, marked by a constant ebb and flow. The encounter between the two has been marked by suspicions, tensions, clashes, and violent conflicts, as well as by cooperation and dialogue across these deep plural societies and overlapping cultures. These modernities will continue to be diverse and they will certainly continue to contend with each other. But their ongoing mutual contention and competition will be far less violent and far more fruitful if we can dispense with the destructive essentialisms recently in evidence in both Western and Muslim-majority societies.

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