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Coping with Defeat: Sunni Islam, Roman Catholicism and the Modern State

Friday, October 20, 2023 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

This lecture, based on the book with the same title, presents a historical panorama of the Islamic and Catholic political-religious empires and exposes striking parallels in their relationship with the modern state. Drawing on interviews, site visits, and archival research in Turkey, North Africa, and Western Europe, Jonathan Laurence demonstrates how, over hundreds of years, both Sunni and Catholic authorities experienced three major shocks and displacements—religious reformation, the rise of the nation-state, and mass migration. As a result, Catholic institutions eventually accepted the state’s political jurisdiction and embraced transnational spiritual leadership as their central mission. Laurence reveals an analogous process unfolding across the Sunni Muslim world in the twenty-first century.

Jonathan Laurence is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College, and an affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard. Prof. Laurence's latest book is Coping with Defeat: Sunni Islam, Roman Catholicism and the Modern State (Princeton University Press, 2021). Previously, The Emancipation of Europe's Muslims, was published by Princeton University Press in 2012, and received awards for Best Book in religion and politics and migration and citizenship from the American Political Science Association. Professor Laurence is a former fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, Wissenchaftszentrum Berlin, Transatlantic Academy at the German Marshall Fund, Fafo Institute/Norwegian Research Council, LUISS University-Rome, Sciences Po-Paris and the Brookings Institution (nonresident, 2003-2018).

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Institute for European Studies


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Maeve Coughlin

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