This paper charts a policy shift within international and European inter-governmental institutions towards advocating the study of religions (or the study of religions and beliefs) in European publicly funded schools. The events of September 11, 2001 in the USA acted as a "wake up call" in relation to recognising the legitimacy and importance of the study of religions in public education. For example, policy recommendations from the Council of Europe and guiding principles for the study of religions and beliefs from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been developed and are under consideration by member or participating states of both bodies. In translating policy into practice, appropriate pedagogies need to be adopted or developed. The paper uses the example of the interpretive approach to indicate how issues of representation, interpretation and reflexivity might be addressed in studying religious diversity within contemporary societies in ways which both avoid stereotyping and engage students' interest.
This article is part of a forum on Gareth Evans' book, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2008). The forum features contributions from Michael Barnett, Chris Brown and Robert Jackson, and it concludes with a response from Gareth Evans.
In the sixteenth century Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian missionaries attempted to convert the native populations of central Mexico. The native peoples generally viewed the new religion in terms very different from that of the missionaries. As conflict broke out after 1550 as Spaniards invaded the Chichimeca frontier (the frontier between sedentary and nomadic natives), the missionaries faced new challenges on both sides of the frontier. Some sedentary natives resisted evangelization, and the missionaries saw themselves in a war against Satan and his minions. The Augustinians assumed a pivotal role in the evangelization campaign on both sides of the Chichimeca frontier, and employed different methods in the effort to convince the natives to embrace the new faith and to defeat Satan’s designs. They used graphic visual aids and the threat of an eternity of suffering in hell to bring recalcitrant natives, such as the Otomi of the Mezquital Valley, into the fold.
Beginning in 1609, Jesuit missionaries established missions (reductions) among sedentary and non-sedentary native populations in the larger region defined as the Province of Paraguay (Rio de la Plata region, eastern Bolivia). One consequence of resettlement on the missions was exposure to highly contagious old world crowd diseases such as smallpox and measles. Epidemics that occurred about once a generation killed thousands. Despite severe mortality crises such as epidemics, warfare, and famine, the native populations living on the missions recovered. An analysis of the effects of epidemics and demographic patterns shows that the native populations living on the Paraguay and Chiquitos missions survived and retained a unique ethnic identity. A comparative approach that considers demographic patterns among other mission populations place the case study of the Paraguay and Chiquitos missions into context, and show how patterns on the Paraguay and Chiquitos missions differed from other mission populations. The findings challenge generally held assumptions about Native American historical demography.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Spain and Portugal contested control of the disputed Rio de la Plata borderlands. The Jesuit missions among the Guarani played an important role in regional conflict through the provision of manpower for campaigns and supplies. However, regional conflict and particularly the mobilization of the mission militia and the movement of soldiers on campaign had demographic consequences for the populations of the missions such as the spread of contagion. This study documents regional conflict in the Rio de la Plata, the militarization of the Jesuit missions, and the demographic consequences of conflict for the mission populations.