School of Law Professor Peter Danchin, an expert on religious freedom and human rights, is one of four national scholars to receive a grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs for a new project entitled "Politics of Religious Freedom." This three-year project (2011-2014) will be jointly based at the University of California, Berkeley's new Institute for Integrative Social Sciences and Northwestern University's Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, and affiliated with law schools at the University of Maryland and the University at Buffalo.
"This grant establishes Professor Danchin as one of the leading young thinkers on the comparative constitutional law of religion both nationally and internationally," said Mark Graber, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and Professor of Law and Government at the School of Law. "We very much look forward to seeing the group's research and scholarship, as well as their curricular suggestions."
The project will consider how religious freedom is being transformed through legal and political contestations in Egypt, India, South Africa, the United States, and the European Union. It will generate a body of research and writing on the global history and politics of religious freedom intended to inform both academic research and contemporary policy debates, at local, national and international levels. Prof. Danchin will work with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (associate professor of political science, Northwestern University), Saba Mahmood (associate professor of social cultural anthropology, UC-Berkeley), and Winifred Sullivan (professor and director of the Law, Religion and Culture Program, University at Buffalo Law School).
Graduate and undergraduate syllabi on religious freedom will be developed and taught by the four members of the research team at their respective institutions, and a related set of teaching aids and materials addressing the transformed and contested nature of religious freedom across Western and non-Western contexts, will be available on a dedicated website and in hard copies. The project will also support four graduate students (over a period of two years) to serve as interns in two legal aid organizations in Egypt and India with whom the research team will be collaborating. Finally, the research team will disseminate research findings and impact policymaking communities through a co-authored handbook on the politics of religious freedom; publication of key papers from project workshops; the publication of capstone conference proceedings in special issues of journals in the fields of international law, religion, and international relations; and translations of, and commentaries on, key legal cases involving religious freedom from India, Egypt, and South Africa.The program will begin this summer in Venice, with Prof. Danchin co-teaching an intensive summer course with the project team immediately before the first workshop on the politics of religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities at the European Inter-University Center for Human Rights and Democratization (EUIC). Two other workshops will be held in Cairo in 2012 and Mumbai in 2013, and the results will be presented at a final capstone conference, hosted at Northwestern University, in Fall 2013.
Professor Danchin has presented his work on religious freedom widely including in a keynote address delivered at the Islamic Norms in Secular Public Spheres: Political Problems, Legal Issues, and Social Practices conference at the University of California Berkeley in May 2009 and at the Duke Forum for Law and Social Change Symposium at Duke Law School in February 2010. Professor Danchin also serves as the Director of the International and Comparative Law Program at UMDLaw. He earned his B.A. and LL.B. with First Class Honors from Melbourne University where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Melbourne University Law Review and President of the Law Students' Society, and his LL.M. and J.S.D. from Columbia Law School where he was a Bretzfelder International Law Fellow.Before joining the faculty at Maryland, he was lecturer and director of the human rights program at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He has served as a foreign law clerk to Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, worked as a foreign associate at the New York law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, and as an associate at the Australian law firm of Allens Arthur Robinson. Professor Danchin has been a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Public and International Law at the ANU College of Law in Canberra, Australia; an Erasmus Mundus Scholar at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the Ruhr Universitat in Bochum, Germany; and a Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the University for Peace in Costa Rica, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and Externado University in Bogota, Colombia.