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Race, Empire, and American Religious Freedom
March 12, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mar. 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM in History Conference Room, 255 Old Horticulture, Professor Tisa Wenger of Yale University will present “Race, Empire, and American Religious Freedom.”
The ideal of religious freedom is so often presented as a timeless and self-evident American ideal. But its history is far more complex and contested than such an exceptionalist narrative can allow. American ideas about religious freedom were continually reinvented through a vibrant national discourse—let’s call it “religious freedom talk”—that cannot be separated from the evolving politics of race and empire. More often than not, religious freedom talk worked to privilege the dominant white Christian population. At the same time, a diverse array of minority groups at home and colonized people abroad invoked and reinterpreted this ideal to defend themselves and their ways of life. In so doing they posed sharp challenges to the racial and religious exclusions of American life—but found their own identities and traditions transformed in the process.