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Mosques, Hindu temples and eruvin are frequently the subject of legal controversies over the use of urban space. The public expression of religion challenges the public-private divide that underpins secular Western law and raises questions about the place of minority religions in the public sphere. With increasing religious plurality in multicultural societies, urban space can become a contested arena where diverging notions of neutrality, identity, and secularism conflict.
Drawing on a case study from Sydney’s Upper North Shore, where the local Jewish Orthodox community tried to establish a ritual structure called an eruv, this presentation explores the legal construction of identity and difference in a controversy over the use of public space. It examines the law’s capacity to protect a religious minority in a particular setting and explores the various bundles of values that are expressed through the language of religious freedom and tolerance.
Mareike Riedel is currently a doctoral researcher in the Law & Anthropology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. She studied law, linguistics, literature and journalism in Leipzig, Lyon and Jerusalem. In her studies she focused on legal history, legal language, law and the arts and interdisciplinary research in law. She is currently a visitor at the Centre for International Governance & Justice, RegNet. More information on Mareike and her work is available at her RegNet profile.
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