Art and religion: freedom and censorship

It appears that the ambivalence in the relationship between religion and art is rather difficult to overcome: the sacred has always been a source of inspiration and the reason for the production of masterpieces in all arts. On the other side, however, the freedom of artistic expression has been severely violated in the name of religion equally today as in the past. Every society is thus called to weigh these two dimensions, the freedom of religion and the freedom of art. Their collision is fundamentally a political matter and not a theological or aesthetic issue. Can the sensibilities of religious communities restrict the freedom of individuals to determine, on their own, what art is? To what extent can liberated art provoke the religious feelings of devout communities? Are there limits and if yes, how are they set? In the final analysis, how does democracy balance the two freedoms, and to what extent does this balance qualify a regime as being democratic?

These are the main questions addressed within the framework of this course which is based on the combination of legal analytical discourse, political theory as well as the perspective as witnessed by artists themselves

Outline of the course

1. Censorship and rights: religion as a hindrance – Dimitris Christopoulos

2. The fine, the fair and the holy: an essay of political theory on art and secularism in Europe, Dr Andreas Takis, jurist

3. Art through biological material. Problems of ethic and limits throughout Europe – Leonidas Karambinis, painter, lecturer at the Athens Technical University.

4. Religion versus against art: The liberal deliberation - Stavros Tsakyrakis, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Athens

5. File and prejudice. Registering censorship in Greece from 1947 till today – Yannis Ziogas, assistant professor of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Macedonia

6. Blasphemy as a penal crime and punishment: case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and selected jurisprudence throughout Europe, Kleio Papapandoleontos, Jurist

7. The Marxist theory on Aesthetics under the regime of illegality in Greece (1918-1974) – Dr. Dimitris Vassos, art historian

8. Contradictions in freedom and censorship: art and politics – Yannis Stavrakakis, Associate professor, Department of Political Science, Aristotelion University of Thessalonika

9. Beyond the legal definition of censorship: censorship as performative producer of the (legal) speech – Athena Athanasiou, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University

10. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”: «This is not censorship» - Yannis Skaltsas, Assistant professor at the Fines Art Faculty of the University of Athens

11. Conclusions and main points addressed at the course – Dimitris Christopoulos

Minorities in Europe

The minority issue in Europe is an interdisciplinary one. The aim of this course is to indicate the ambivalent historical process of minority protection in Europe in terms of theory and facts. Taking as pillar, fundamental principles of the liberal political philosophy and legal theory, the course focuses first on the formation of minority phenomenon within the framework of the constitutive reflection of European modernity. At the same time, international law protection of minority rights and the history of European international relations from the 17th century until today, certifies the theoretical assumptions for the emergence of this specific for Europe phenomenon, imported in other parts of the world from this continent. This theoretical and historical itinerary will help us to specify the meaning of the term “minority” through our contemporary legal theory. Social anthropology as well critical trends in recent social theory will also help in forming the different shapes that minority phenomena might take or have already taken in Europe through ethno-national and religious claims. Finally, the course faces the strategy of the European institutions such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in relevance with minorities by the end of Cold War, helping to answer a fundamental topical question: “ how is the issue of minorities is considered, in our days in Europe?”.

Special attention will be drawn to the specific right, defined in all constitutions of the European States as well as article 9 of the European Convention for Human Rights, i.e. religious freedom, which reads as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This rights includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. 2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief shall be subjected only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society in the interest of public safety, for the protection of public order, health and morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Outline of the course

1. Introduction: The minority concept – alterity - as a matter of power struggle

This section is an introduction to the subject. What is examined is the the very notion of otherness in the field of political and legal theory

2. The formation of modern individual “individuum” as prerequisite of the constitution of the modern minority phenomenon

The absolute prerequisite for the existence of minorities is the individual. Having minorities means having individuals who legitimately expect rights. The anthropological/theological birth of the individual is investigated in the first place, whereas the procedure of excluding minorities from the social contract follows. The history of ideas is certified in practice: The Treaty of Westphalia validates the existance of minorities on the European continent while for the first time the protection of religious minorities is part and parcel with the new European order of the 17th century: the first “modern” one.

3. Human rights in nation-states and minorities

The liberating era of the first Declarations of Human Rights doesn’t focus on minority issues. From this point of view, a brief critical introduction to modern human rights theories and their critics is absolutely required in order to understand the nature of the debate on minority rights. The question is why minorities are not able to take profit of the set of rules and rights prescribed in the first Constitutions and Human Rights Declarations for the so-called ‘transcendental’ abstract individual. In the historical context, the Congress of Vienna (1815) certifies the transition from protection of religious difference to becoming a member of a national identified minority.

4. The principle of nationalities

The implementation of the principle leads to the historical appearance of such national minorities on the newborn European national territories, as part and parcel of international relations in Europe. If that principle had been applied without any exception, then minorities would not have existed. The origin and the ambivalence of the nationalities principle will be examined: while liberating some nations, it turns others to minorities. The legal experience of the Interwar period (1919-1939) with special focus on the so-called “minority treaties” of the League of Nations, as well as the whole minority protection system established, actually the first one ever in international law focusing on minority rights, will equally be examined.

5. ‘Post modern’ aspects of belonging

The end of the WWII brings us to an international order – under the auspices of the United Nations – where the very term “minority” is rejected since protection of minorities by keen states was, to a certain extent, reasonable regarded as reason or pretext of the WWII. International law, focuses from now on, on simple human rights, based on the principle of non-discrimination. This is the prevalent perception that had many defenders from the establishment of UN until the end of Cold war.

6. Minorities, legal theory and anthropology: the group as an order

The general idea of this session is that a group of individuals is a mechanism that (re)produces relations of power, in other words, an order. Certain view points within legal theory and sociology will be addressed in order to support this idea. (M.Weber, F. Geny, L. Duguit, E. Ehrlich, G.Gurvitch, S.Romano). The same is in the case of legal legal pluralism in anthropological approaches of modern societies.

7. Minority claim as a self-defining act and the impasses of minority representation.

In international law, traditional definitions of minorities usually describe a group. The critics vis-à-vis such definitions highlight the group’s claim as the essential reality of the collective identity a component of what the minority really is about, while the group’s claim is what makes the group visible in the public sphere. Another issue discussed in the session is the informal representation of the groups: who is entitled to speak in the name of the group and on what grounds its mandate is legitimated both by the state and group itself.

8. The nature of rights: cultural and collective rights

Cultural rights protect what makes individuals unique, their culture, while, individual rights protect what makes them the same, their dignity. To what extent cultural rights presuppose or even dictate cultural duties vis-à-vis the cultural community. Finally, should minority rights be considered as collective or the state should provide minority people with protection, even against their one group?

9. European ideology in minority protection

The post Cold War minority protection is presented as a European ideology based on three pillars. The ‘normative’ one, which presents minority rights as human ones. This is mainly the approach of the Council of Europe, namely of the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities. The second pillar regards minority religions and languages as an integral part of the European cultural heritage, which deserves to be safeguarded. Here, the European Charter for Minority and Regional languages is the main legal tool. Finally, the third ideological pillar is based on the assumption that minority protection is a mean of conflict prevention: protecting groups is achieving peace: This is the approach of the OSCE High Commissioner on national minorities.

10 and 11. Minorities in Greece: the historical heritage and the political point in time

In these final courses, the Greek case study is presented through its history since the independence of the modern Greek state (1830). Greece is a country which followed the Jacobin French model of “one state, one nation” and where minority existence is rejected in the name of the above mentioned devise. Expulsion and assimilation have been the main trends in Greek politics versus minorities.

12. Recapitulation

C. Citizenship and migration

Citizenship, otherwise nationality, is the legal bond of public law proving a membership to a state. The presentation of main modes of citizenship acquisition as well as main modes of its loss demonstrate the fundamental controversies related to integration and exclusion within European state tradition and administrative practice. Who is entitled to be and who deserves not to be a citizen is revealingly answered by the way modern states use citizenship acquisition and loss in order to construct their political community according their national ideals and values. What is at stake here is they way political authoritarianism finds in restrictive citizenship practices, ways to exclude migrants and minorities or ways to integrate co-ethnics abroad.

The most crucial points and memories of the modern Greek political history, from the establishment of the Greek state until today, can be reflected by examining practice and problems pertaining to Greek citizenship. Therefore, citizenship proves to be a weapon for social integration while, at the same time, can proved fatal for those that the state considers unworthy to have it. Nowadays, policies of citizenship in the European society have to face up with the challenge of immigration. The immigrant’s intention of a permanent installation and integration in the working reality of the host country sets necessary the redefinition of citizenship policies in the European Union.

Who is the European “we, the people” today?

Outline of the course

1. Course presentation. State, religion, nation, people, population and constitution: Citizen’s rights or/and individual’s rights

2. Historical and theoretical constitution of citizenship: liberal and republican tradition

3. Citizenship and secularism in contemporary political theory

4. Citizenship and nationality: Basic concepts of jus sanguinis and jus soli

5. Citizenship in Greece: the case of a non secular nation: who is entitled to be Greek?

6. Greek nationality from the establishment to the territorial integration of Greece: from millet to nation via the Greek-Orthodox genos

7. Nationality at the time of Cold War. Deprivation of nationality

8. Code of Greek Nationality - Presentation I

9. Code of Greek Nationality - Presentation II

10. Citizenship and Immigration: the Greek experience within its European context

11. Summary of material - contemporary questions on citizenship

Αρχειοθήκη ιστολογίου