Interactions explores how law and religion interact in today’s world and throughout history. This podcast is produced by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University and in collaboration with canopyforum.org.
The Battle for Sabarimala: Religion, Law, and Gender in Contemporary India
Welcome to the Interactions podcast — brought to you by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. Now in its 40th year, our Center explores the interactions of law and religion through research and scholarship, teaching and training, and public programs. This season of the podcast explores recent scholarship in law and religion from members of the Center community. This podcast is produced by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University and in collaboration with canopyforum.org.
Today's guest is Deepa Das Acevedo, Associate Professor of Law at Emory University. In this episode, we talk about her forthcoming book from Oxford University Press, "The Battle for Sabarimala: Religion, Law, and Gender in Contemporary India." The book tells the complex and ongoing story of the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, India —–a site of heated dispute over gender equality, religious freedom, and religion-state relations. Drawing on more than a decade's worth of research, the book delves into the intersection of anthropology and law, providing innovative solutions that effectively navigate the intricate legal landscape of the temple, while also contextualizing it within the larger framework of Indian and constitutional law.
In this conversation, we cover a lot of ground, including the background and historical importance of the Sabarimala Temple, why recent disputes can be considered a turning point for the Indian judiciary, and the relationship between anthropology and law.
AI and Jewish Law: Seeing How ChatGPT 4.0 Looks at a Novel Issue
In this episode, we hear from Michael Broyde, a law professor at Emory Law School, and Berman Projects director at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.
Recently, Professor Broyde has turned his scholarly attention to the potential impacts of artificial intelligence on law and religion. He and the Center's Executive Director Whittney Barth have convened a working group on law, religion, and AI, that includes faculty from institutions around the world. The Center is also involved in two scholarly publishing projects related to law, religion, and AI. One is a symposium issue of the Journal of Law and Religion, published by Cambridge University Press, and the other is a special issue of the journal LAWS, published by MDPI with Michael Broyde and Whittney Barth as co-editors. You can visit the Center's website for more information.
In a Work in Progress session at the Center, Professor Broyde shared his most recent work: "AI and Jewish Law: Seeing How ChatGPT 4.0 Looks at a Novel Issue." During the talk, he explores the translation capabilities of Chat GPT 4.0 from Hebrew to English, how well Chat GPT 4.0 analyzed a novel issue for Jewish Law when prompted with a curated set of sources, and some of the implications of this and future technological developments for Jewish Law as well as for the American federal courts. After his remarks, we will hear from a few audience members as the floor opens for a wider discussion of the implications of this research.
Special Episode: CSLR Study on Law and Ministry
In a special episode of the Interactions podcast, Whittney Barth and John Bernau sat down to discuss some of the report's main findings with three distinguished guests: Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, Rev. Caroline Magee, and Rev. Ingrid McIntyre. While our guests were not involved in the study, we brought them in to talk about three themes that emerged from the study, including the nature of theological education, the role of a pastor versus the role of a lawyer, and ministers' interactions with government.
CSLR would like to thank the Lilly Endowment, Inc., for their generous support of the Center's law and ministry study. Our executive producer is Eythen Anthony. Our theme music is "Elevator Pitch" by Shane Ivers from silvermansound.com. To learn more about Center for the Study of Law and Religion and the study on law and ministry, please visit cslr.law.emory.edu
At Home and Abroad: Cooper Harriss on Muhammad Ali
There are few figures so engrained in pop culture and world history like Muhammad Ali. Along with being one of the best professional heavyweight boxers in history, Ali was a civil rights and anti-war activist, a follower of the Nation of Islam, later converting to Sunni Islam, an author, and an artist. Beyond these titles though, Muhammad Ali stands as this almost mythological figure; a symbol, supported by all the literature, films, theater, and artwork that exemplifies his life and impact. It's like Muhammad Ali always said, "I am the greatest."
In our finale, Matt Cavedon and Ira Bedzow speak with Cooper Harriss of Indiana University. Harriss is an associate professor in religious studies and an adjunct professor in comparative literature, folklore, and ethnomusicology. His research focuses on the relationship between religion and major cultural figures in American history, and how they defined the culture then as well as today. Harriss has written about Ralph Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, Nat Turner, Zora Neale Hurston, and Muhammad Ali.
In his essay, "On the Abroad of a Different Home: Muhammad Ali in Micro-Scope," Harriss uses the history of the athlete, as well as how his life is represented in media, to explore how the selectiveness of identity can paint specific pictures of an individual. The three begin by discussing why Harriss chose to write about Ali, explaining how Ali acts as a symbol for post-war American religion. The conversation then shifts into the art meant to illustrate the life of Ali, from work that highlights a certain span of time, such as all the film biopics that follow Ali between 1964-1974, to work that focuses on a specific moment, such as in Will Power's play Fetch Clay, Make Man. And along with discussions of how white popular memory and black popular memory remember Ali, as well as the ways "irony" and "double cross" relate to the athlete, the three consider the question: How do we explain our identity, or is there no such thing; only perception?
At Home and Abroad: Winnifred Fallers Sullivan on Religious Due Process
Imagine this scenario: There's an American who's part of a congregation of a Protestant church. While attending church, this American enters a discussion with a few leaders of that church about the meaning behind a certain scripture. This discussion develops into a disagreement and this disagreement results in the American being excommunicated from the church with little to no opportunity to defend his position within the congregation. With all this information in mind, I ask do you think this is fair? Or, does the American deserve due process within the church, and, if so, why? Why is it expected, specifically in an American context, that religious law follows the same procedures as secular law?
It's this scenario and this final question that form the backbone of "The Rule of Law," an essay part of the collection, At Home and Abroad, written by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan.
In today's episode, Matt and Ira speak with Sullivan, provost professor in religious studies at Indiana University, where she teaches courses on religion, law, and the politics of religious freedom, among other topics. Sullivan is the author of many books, including four that analyze legal discourses about religion. She's also the co-editor of At Home and Abroad.
Her essay, "The Rule of Law," explores the ways that religious law and secular law overlap and diverge in an American setting. Sullivan uses the experience of one of her former students, who sought due process after being excommunicated from the church, to set the scene for the essay. Along with examining the mindset of this student, the three discuss the beginnings of American legal history, the complexity surrounding the term "fundamentalism," and the benefits of categorizing the political and the religious.
At Home and Abroad: Greg Johnson on Indigenous Hawaiian Repatriation
In today's episode, Matt and Ira speak with Greg Johnson, Professor in the department of religious studies at UC Santa Barbara and director of the Walter H. Capps Center for the study of Ethics, Religion and Public Life. His essay "Domestic Bones, Foreign Land, and the Kingdom Come: Jurisdictions of Religion in Contemporary Hawaii" explores the legal efforts of Native Hawaiians in repossessing land and human remains and its connection to religion and spirituality. The three begin discussing Johnson's experience as a delegate a part of a team of experts retrieving iwi kupuna, the bones and skulls of Native Hawaiians, from the Dresden Museum of Ethnology. The conversation shifts to discussing the ways Native Hawaiians maneuver around legal jurisdictions, a term that Johnson refers to as "auto-jurisdiction." Finally, they highlight the United States' perception of Native Hawaiians and the continued search for land reclamation.
All this and more on today's episode of Interactions.