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Across jurisdictions, debates on the appropriate legal response to the demands of culture and religion are growing in importance. These debates are set against the background of contemporary controversies around cultural drug use, religious dress (e.g. the burka), claims for special language rights, religious animal slaughter, religious arbitration or mediation and the rights of indigenous peoples. This course will explore these debates through the following questions, among others:
- Is the legal protection of religious freedom justified? What should the scope of such protection be?
- What demands does multiculturalism make on the law? Is multiculturalism bad for women? How should the law respond to multiculturalism?
- How should the law respond to demands for exemptions from general laws for cultural or religious reasons?
- How should the law respond to demands for the accommodation of religious and cultural norms within state legal systems?
- How should the law respond to religious or cultural practices that have a far-reaching impact on children?
We will explore further controversies (e.g. the legal recognition of polygamy and polyamory) and different jurisdictions (e.g. the personal law system in India) of interest to students in the final seminars.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and critical understanding of prominent theoretical approaches to multiculturalism and religious freedom, and an integrated understanding of the similarities and differences between these approaches. This understanding will be developed through individual close reading and class discussion of key texts;
- Have an advanced and critical understanding of key contemporary debates on appropriate legal responses to the demands of culture and religion;
- Be able to deploy critical, analytical and evaluative skills in thinking independently about debates on the appropriate legal response to the demands of culture and religion; and
- Be able to independently develop, and express in written form, arguments that draw on the key theoretical texts to respond to practical questions on the appropriate legal response to the demands of culture and religion.
A student who has successfully completed the subject will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key questions, topics and issues explored in the course;
- Critically evaluate and comment on theoretical texts, cases and other legal materials;
- Develop and communicate reflective and reasoned arguments about questions and issues on the subject, contributing effectively to the debates discussed during the course;
- Respond to particular practical problems by drawing on theoretical texts and materials;
- Express, in written form, reflections and arguments which engage with theoretical literature, as well as case studies and legal materials;
- Understand the significance of moral reasoning in debates on the appropriate legal response to practical problems with a moral dimension; and
- Engage in sophisticated moral reasoning in order to develop a position on the appropriate legal response to practical problems with a moral dimension.
Last updated: 10 November 2023