Politics of Religious Freedom

Politics of Religious Freedom studied how religious freedom is being transformed through legal and political contestations in the United States, the Middle East, South Asia, and the European Union. 

The project departed from the assumption that there is a single and stable conception of religious liberty. It undertakes a comparative study of the multiple historical trajectories, concepts, and practices now organized under the rubric of religious freedom. Read a summary about the project's goals and activities.

The project was jointly based at the University of California-Berkeley, and Northwestern University's Buffett Institute for Global Studies. 


A three-year grant from the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs funded this program. 


Pedagogical component

  • Undergraduate and graduate syllabi on the comparative history of religious freedom globally
  • Supporting four graduate students, including Northwestern students Mona Oraby of Political Science and Nazli Ozkan of Anthropology, to conduct summer dissertation fieldwork on topics related to the project themes.


This project brings together academics, key human rights and civil society organizations, along with jurists and policy makers who have helped to reshape the debate on religious freedom in the United States, the European Union, India, Egypt, and South Africa.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd | Northwestern University, co-PI

Saba Mahmood | UC-Berkeley, co-PI

Winnifred Sullivan | Indiana University

Peter Danchin | University of Maryland Law