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12-13 June 2017 | Tradition and Traditionalisms Compared. A Joint Program of the Tradition Project and the Postsecular Conflicts Project
Tradition and Traditionalisms Compared. A Joint Program of the Tradition Project and the Postsecular Conflicts Project
Workshop, invitation required | English| Aula piccola
The event, organized in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck (ERC – European Research Council) and St. John's Law School, will compare traditionalism in the West, particularly the United States of America, with the understanding of tradition that the Russian Orthodox Church has advocated in its recent social teaching. Both versions of traditionalism are complex, with competing strands. Yet it may be possible to identify core attributes that allow for a fruitful comparison.
Discussions about the meaning of tradition and “traditional values” are today at the core of national and international debates. Scholars in law, political science, theology, and sociology are investigating how, and to what extent, tradition informs and influences political and legal developments. Two ongoing research projects bear directly on these questions:
- The Tradition Project at St. John’s University Law School explores the value of tradition in a system of ordered liberty. Its basic objective is to develop a broad understanding of what received wisdom continues to offer for law, politics, and responsible citizenship.
- The Postsecular Conflicts Project at the University of Innsbruck explores the potential, both positive and conflictual, of tradition in a context of political transition. The project explores the concept of traditional values in the present day Russian context as situated at the intersection of national and transnational discourses on human rights, legal sovereignty and religion in the public sphere.
The conference is co-organized by the Centre for Religious Studies at the FBK Foundation in Trento and will focus on the varieties of tradition in contemporary law and politics.
This event is a perfect fit with the mission of the Centre for Religious Studies at FBK to advance the critical understanding of the multi-faceted relationship between religion and innovation in contemporary society and its research line on conflicts. Specifically, the joint program would compare traditionalism in the West, particularly America, with the understanding of tradition the Russian Orthodox Church has advocated in its recent social teaching. Both versions of traditionalism are complex, with competing strands. Yet it may be possible to identify core attributes for fruitful comparison.
In some respects, the models of American and Russian tradition converge. Both highlight the authority of received wisdom, especially with respect to moral questions; both emphasize the experiential and particular over the abstract and universal; both highlight the importance of place; both are skeptical of subjective individualism. In both understandings of tradition, religious faith plays a strong part. And, in both countries traditionalism and nationalism are linked. Yet there are differences as well. Although many American traditionalists are themselves believers, the American model does not always rely on religion. American traditionalism often values the past, not because it is closer to divine revelation, but because it reflects collective judgments whose values have been tested by time. That is, American traditionalism is often justified empirically, politically, and culturally; moral values and customs would not have long survived, it is argued, unless they offered real benefits to society. By contrast, the Russian understanding highlights tradition’s conformity to divine revelation about man and the world. Orthodox Christianity is the primary source of this revelation, but Russian traditionalism also includes other confessions that have been historically important in the Russian polity (in particular Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism). The justification is not so much empirical or cultural as teleological and political: against the background of the communist experience, which is interpreted as a break in tradition, tradition has to be defended and recreated. Moreover, American traditionalism is more comfortable with a rights-oriented liberalism than the Russian. In America, political liberalism is a large part of the tradition.
The conference will compare these two models to see how they converge and diverge, and how traditionalists in both models collaborate in common political projects.
Agadjanian Alexander, Professor of Religious Studies at the Russian State Humanities University, Moscow
Annicchino Pasquale, Senior Researcher Postsecular Conflicts Project, University of Innsbruck, Fellow, European University Institute
Bob Clifford, Professor and Chair of Political Science Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
Chapnin Sergej, Journalist & Researcher Postsecular Conflicts Project, University of Innsbruck
DeGirolami Marc, Professor of Law, St. John's University School of Law, NY
Deneen Patrick J., Associate Professor of University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
Dreher Rod, Journalist
Moreland Michael, Professor of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova, PA
Movsesian Mark, Professor of Law St. John's University School of Law, NY
Shishkov Andrey, Researcher at the Department of External Church Relations and Social Sciences, Doctoral School of the Moscow Patriarchate, Moscow
Shmalyj Vladimir, Lecturer at the Department of External Church Relations and Social Sciences, Doctoral School of the Moscow Patriarchate, Moscow
Stoeckl Kristina, Assistant Professor and leader of the project Postsecular Conflicts at the Department of Sociology, University of Innsbruck
Uzlaner Dmitry, Editor of the Journal State, Religion and Church, Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow & Senior Researcher Postsecular Conflicts project, University of Innsbruck
Ventura Marco, Professor Department of Law of the University of Siena, Italy and Director of FBK-ISR, Trento-Italy
Vermeule Adrian, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge