Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” Session 11

22 November, 2008 HANEDA Masashi, SAWAI Kazuaki, Secularization, Religion, State

The 11th session of the Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” was held on November 17th.

This is the first seminar of the second semester. In this session, Dr. Kiyonobu Date (Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) delivered a lecture, titled ‘‘Achievments of Professor Jean Baubérot and his attitude to laïcité studies, ’’. We aimed to build common ground on this issue before Professor Baubérot ‘s coming to Japan next week.

Dr. Date studies the situation of laïcité in France, and when he studied in France, Professor Baubérot was one of his supervisors. In this meaning, he might be a researcher knowing Professor Baubérot best in Japan.

At first, Dr.Date introduced Professor Baubérot’s career concisely. Professor Baubérot is a protestant as a minority in France, and perhaps it is certain that this fact is the one of his starting points of his laïcité studies. And also, Professor Baubérot was a member of the Stasi committee which played an important part in the approval of the headscarf ban in public space in 2004. It might be possible to say that he is an influential researcher as a recognized authority on laïcité studies in France.

To put it simply, Professor Baubérot’s attitude to laïcité studies is ‘‘demythologizing’’ it. Namely, he thinks that people’s image of laïcité can be changed by clarifying the difference between ‘‘memories of laïcité’’ and ‘‘the history of laïcité’’. This attitude has something common with Pierre Nora’s view on the past and history. In this meaning, Professor Baubérot’s understanding on laïcité is totally different from Louis Kapéran’s and Albert Bayet’s.

We can confirm it by his view on the Concordat of 1801 between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. Professor Baubérot appreciates the Concordat of 1801 as ‘‘the Pluralism of Recognized Religions’’. This positive view is quite different from the understanding of Concordat by Henri Pena-Ruiz, who regards it as heading for the opposite direction from the aim of laïcité.

According to Dr. Date, Professor Baubérot often speaks on Islam in France. Professor Baubérot points out that the problem is not Islam itself, and Islam is a mirror which reflects the situation of laïcité of the day.

After Dr.Date’s lecture, we had productive discussions, for example on the main stream of laïcité studies in France, and on Professor Baubérot’s view on Islam. It was a significant opportunity for us in preparation for the seminar of Professor Baubérot next week.

reported by Kazuaki SAWAI

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