Religion, Populism & Pluralism

Convened by the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics and Society
May 5, 2018
Yale University, WLH 309

Religion, Populism & PluralismThe recent resurgence of populism in democratic politics has an ambivalent relationship to pluralism. While some populist movements are deeply exclusionary, others are highly participatory and inclusive. This conference is premised on the thought that religion may offer a useful lens through which to articulate and understand these competing impulses.

Building on the interdisciplinary mission of Yale’s Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, the conference brings together graduate students, postdocs, and faculty from across departments and disciplines to confront the boundaries and blind spots that structure contemporary scholarship about religion, populism, and pluralism.

Our keynote speaker will be Mabel Berezin of Cornell University.

A reception will follow at BAR Pizza (254 Crown Street) from 6:30 – 8:00 PM

The conference is free and open to the public, and we invite all who are interested to join us in conversation.

So that we can adequately prepare, please register for the conference by May 1st, 2018, by filling out this form.

If you have questions, please email:

Program Schedule

9:00 - 10:30

Session 1 -  Pluralism in the Public Sphere (Part 1)  (Moderator: Billy McMillan) (Discussant: Eli Stern)

  • Nathan S Empsall: From Privacy to Pluralism: Why Progressive Christians Don’t Talk About Their Faith in the Public Square (Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies)
  • Kenneth R. Vaughan (Baylor University): Anti-Immigrant Sentiment and Attitudes toward Democracy: What Role Does Religion Play?
  • Margot Dazey (Yale University): The politics of Islamic religious authority in France
  • Theodore Lai (University of Chicago): Plurality in Public Spaces: A Dialogue between Rawls and Arendt
10:45 - 12:30

Session 2 -  Religion, Modernity, and (Post-) Secularity  (Moderator: Mie Inouye) (Discussant: Tisa Wenger)

  • Darren Nah (Yale University): The Religious Pedagogy of Hegelian Philosophy
  • Kelly Maeshiro (Union Theological Seminary): Mammonism and the Contradictions of Capital
  • Adnan Rehman (Boston University): Negotiating Religion and Modernity: The Political Theology of Abul Kalam Azad
  • Carmen Lea Dege (Yale University): Populism in Secular Times: Karl Jaspers on Difference, Identity and Philosophical Faith
  • Timothy Byram (Yale Divinity School): The Time of Empire: Race and Religious Pluralism in Nineteenth-Century America
12:30 - 1:15 Lunch
1:15 - 2:45 Session 3 -  Religious Nationalism and Populism in the Age of Trump  (Moderator: Cody Musselman) (Discussant: John Hartley)
  • Jørn Emborg (Yale University) :How Populisms Work - A framework for thinking about why populisms work and how populisms vary
  • Gulay Turkmen (University of Goettingen)  (co-author: Sinem Adar) : Whither Nations? Populism, Nationalism, and Emotional Disintegration (via skype)
  • Vatsal Naresh (Yale University) : Recep Tayyib Erdogan, Narendra Modi, and majoritarian domination
  • James Dennis LoRusso (Princeton University) :The Art of the Making the Dealmaker: Religion, the American Fetish of “Business Leadership,” and the Trump Presidency
3:00-4:30 Session 4 - Religion and the State (Moderator: Anne Taylor) (Discussant: Bruce Gordon)
  • Gilad Abiri (Yale Law School):Constitutional Law and the Challenge of Religious Nationalism
  • Gilad Wenig (University of Maryland, College Park): “In Khaki We Trust: The Politics of Military Capital in the United States.”
  • Amy Fallas (Yale University): A Theology of American Evangelical Saviorism: Political Imagination, Religious Salvation, and the Plight of Christians in the Contemporary Middle East
  • Elisabeth Becker (Yale University) “Turkish Governance of Berlin’s “Model Mosque”: States, Tensions and Transnationality”
4:45 - 6:00 Keynote
6:15 - 7:30 Reception