Elizabeth Burns Coleman

Dr Elizabeth Coleman is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Wollongong. She holds a PhD in philosophy from ANU and has held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, ANU. She has taught philosophy of art at ANU, and moral and political philosophy at La Trobe and Appropriation (2005) and has published articles on indigenous art in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, the International Year Book of Aesthetics, and the Journal of Political Philosophy.

Negotiating the Sacred II »

Blasphemy and Sacrilege in the Arts

Blasphemy and other forms of blatant disrespect to religious beliefs have the capacity to create significant civil and even international unrest. Consequently, the sacrosanctity of religious dogmas and beliefs, stringent laws of repression and codes of moral and ethical propriety have compelled artists to live and create with occupational hazards like uncertain audience response, self-censorship and accusations of deliberate misinterpretation of cultural production looming over their heads. Yet, in recent years, issues surrounding the rights of minority cultures to recognition and respect have raised new questions about the contemporariness of the construct of blasphemy and sacrilege. Controversies over the aesthetic representation of the sacred, the exhibition of the sacred as art, and the public display of sacrilegious or blasphemous works have given rise to heated debates and have invited us to reflect on binaries like artistic and religious sensibilities, tolerance and philistinism, the sacred and the profane, deification and vilification. Endeavouring to move beyond ‘simplistic’ points about the rights to freedom of expression and sacrosanctity, this collection explores how differences between conceptions of the sacred can be negotiated. It recognises that blasphemy may be justified as a form of political criticism, as well as a sincere expression of spirituality. But it also recognises that within a pluralistic society, blasphemy in the arts can do an enormous amount of harm, as it may also impair relations within and between societies. This collection evolved out a two-day conference called ‘Negotiating the Sacred: Blasphemy and Sacrilege in the Arts’ held at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research at The Australian National University in November 2005. This is the second volume in a series of five conferences and edited collections on the theme ‘Negotiating the Sacred’. The first conference, ‘Negotiating the Sacred: Blasphemy and Sacrilege in a Multicultural Society’ was held at The Australian National University’s Centre for Cross-Cultural Research in 2004, and published as an edited collection by ANU Press in 2006. Other conferences in the series have included Religion, Medicine and the Body (ANU, 2006), Tolerance, Education and the Curriculum (ANU, 2007), and Governing the Family (Monash University, 2008). Together, the series represents a major contribution to ongoing debates on the political demands arising from religious pluralism in multicultural societies.

Negotiating the Sacred »

Blasphemy and Sacrilege in a Multicultural Society

Edited by: Elizabeth Burns Coleman, Kevin White
This cross-disciplinary exploration of the role of the sacred, blasphemy and sacrilege in a multicultural society brings together philosophers, theologians, lawyers, historians, curators, anthropologists and sociologists, as well as Christian, Jewish and Islamic and secular perspectives. In bringing together different disciplinary and cultural approaches, the book provides a way of broadening our conceptions of what might count as sacred, sacrilegious and blasphemous, in moral and political terms. In addition, it provides original research data on blasphemy, sacrilege and religious tolerance from a range of disciplines. The book is presented in four sections: Section I: Religion Sacrilege and Blasphemy in Australia. Section II: Sacrilege and the Sacred Section III: The State, Religion and Tolerance Section IV: The Future: Openness and Dogmatism. The book will appeal to both those actively involved in religious negotiation and to scholars and students of religion in history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology and political science.