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Routledge Handbook on the Governance of Religious Diversity

The Routledge Handbook on the Governance of Religious Diversity critically reviews a rich sample of state-religion models and approaches to managing religious diversity. The contributors explore country cases that encompass eight world regions and 23 states. The publication thus offers insights into a variety of socio-economic and geopolitical contexts, including settings that are predominantly Muslim (Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia), countries with pronounced historical religious diversity (India, Lebanon) and a predominantly migrant pluralist nation (Australia). The in-depth analysis of state-religion relations and religious diversity governance in regions beyond Europe provides a basis for ingeniously re-thinking European approaches and informing both policy and research.   

The chapter “Bulgaria: Strong Cultural Legacies, Weak Institutions, and Political Instrumentalisation of Religion”, authored by Dr. Mila Mancheva, explores the relationship between secularism and religious diversity governance in Bulgaria. It offers an engaging historical account of state-religion relations in the country and an insightful analysis of the current institutional structure for governing religious diversity. The model of state-religion relations in Bulgaria is one of political secularism characterised by a two-way autonomy between the state and religious institutions. Freedom of belief and religious pluralism are acknowledged by the state. At the same time, the Bulgarian Constitution recognizes Orthodox Christianity as “traditional religion”. Most of the population is highly secularized and the main religious institutions are relatively weak. Nonetheless, religion continues to play an influential role in society as it remains an important component of most Bulgarians’ cultural identity. 

“Albania: Legacy of Shared Culture and History for Religious Tolerance”, written by Dr. Liliya Yakova and Leda Kuneva, examines the relationship between state and religion in Albania. It puts forward an informative analysis of the present-day legal-institutional framework formalising an Albanian-style laïcité – a mutually independent, yet cooperative relationship between the state and religious communities. It provides a riveting discussion of the complex dynamics of state-religion relations in historical perspective by looking into the historical and socio-political forces that have shaped this interaction. The chapter explores other sets of critical contextual drivers, in particular socio-demographic, economic, and cultural factors, which impact the modus vivendi of the relationship between state, religion and society. 

The chapter “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Persisting Ethno-Religious Divide”, written by Dr. Gergana Tzvetkova and Rosalina Todorova captures the challenges of Bosnia and Herzegovina in reconceptualising the relationship between the state and religious communities after the Bosnian war. An institutional framework was crafted underpinning a model of secularism characterised by a separation of state and religion and a commitment to religious freedom and equality of all religious communities. However, multiple risks and impediments remain that interfere with the implementation of these norms, including deep social divisions and the manipulation of religion by various actors seeking to exacerbate separation and inequality. In addition to the analysis of these and other factors, the chapter provides a fascinating account of the historical and socio-political processes that have conditioned the country’s current regional and global position. 

The full text is available on the Routledge website here.

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