NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

The Impact of Religion: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy

Anders Bäckström, Uppsala University

The goal is to establish a Centre of Excellence at Uppsala University concerned with the economic, social, political, legal and - above all - religious changes that are taking place in Sweden and the Nordic countries at the beginning of the 21st century. The fact that these changes are both complex and interrelated is central to our project, which finds its point of departure in the following observations:

a. that religion is increasingly visible in public life;
b. that this visibility should be seen in the context of human rights, global migration and continuing technological change;
c. that the nation state and - more specifically - the Nordic welfare state is in the process of change; this in turn effects a wide variety of actors, including religious communities;
d. that, taken together, these factors provoke new cultural and religious questions, which challenge our understandings of democracy, international co-operation, law, healthcare and existing outlooks on life;
e. that the study of religion requires both multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches and that such research is very limited;
f. that Uppsala University has the potential to become a Centre of Excellence in this area, drawing in innovative ways on the expertise of many different faculties.