For several decades, culture played a central role in challenging the liberal tradition. More recently however, religion has re-emerged as one of the central challenges facing Western liberal societies' conception of multiculturalism. Mapping the Legal Boundaries of Belonging explores the complex relationship between religion and multiculturalism and the role of the state and law in the creation of boundaries.
The intersection between religion, nationalism and other vectors of difference in Canada and Israel offer an ideal laboratory in which to examine multiculturalism in particular and the governance of diversity in general. The contributors to this volume investigate concepts of religious difference and diversity and the ways in which these two states and legal systems understand and respond to them. As a consequence of a purportedly secular human rights perspective, they show, state laws may appear to define religious identity in a way that contradicts the definition found within a particular religion. Both state and religion make the same mistake if they take a court decision that emphasizes individual belief and practice as effecting a direct modification of a religious norm: the court lacks the power to change the authoritative internal definition of who belongs to a particular faith. Similarly, in the pursuit of a particular model of social diversity, the state may adopt policies that imply a particular private/public distinction foreign to some religious traditions.
Rene Provost is a Professor of Law at McGill University, where he was the founding Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. He holds degrees from the Universite de Montreal, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Oxford. He teaches Public International Law, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, Legal Anthropology, and various courses in legal theory.
"The current state of multiculturalism and its future is an enormously important and difficult topic. This fascinating collection provides new insights through its imaginative comparison of Canada, specifically Quebec, and Israel. Tacking back and forth between these two countries, the book opens up in provocative ways the links between religion, secularism, human rights, and the possibilities of a post-multicultural society."
--Sally Engle Merry, Professor of Anthropology, Law, and Society, New York University