Special Mention for Wadham Fellow

18th May 2020

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Wadham Fellow Prof Tarunabh Khaitan and co-author Dr Jane Calderwood Norton have received a Special Mention award by the International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON) under its Best Article Prize 2020. 

  • Professor Tarunabh Khaitan

    Professor Tarunabh Khaitan

I•CON is an extremely prestigious, and arguably the world’s top, journal in the field of constitutional law. The I•CON Prize is awarded for the most outstanding article published in the preceding year by the International Journal of Constitutional Law. 

This year the Editors decided to make two Special Mention awards as well as the main prize. In 2019, Prof Khaitan was awarded the Woodward Medal for his book A Theory of Discrimination Law (OUP 2015) for making a “significant contribution to knowledge in a field of humanities and social sciences.” In 2018, he received the Letten Prize for conducting ‘excellent research of great social relevance’. 
 
Tarun and Jane’s I•CON article argues that while they are often conflated, the right to freedom of religion and the right against religious discrimination are in fact distinct human rights which protect different human interests in relation to religion. It distinguishes between two different ways in which human beings relate to religion: on the one hand, religion is a matter of personal (and communal) adherence or non-adherence to a set of beliefs and practices. On the other hand, religion sometimes acts like race or tribe—a social identity which arbitrarily allocates privileges to some religious groups and saddles others with disabilities. One can give up or change her religious adherence (from the external, non-adherent, perspective—for the adherent, her faith is not a matter of choice). But the privileges and disabilities that afflict her religious group are harder to shake off (even from the non-committal viewpoint). Tracking sociological research showcasing the astonishing diversity both between and within religions, the article makes a case for a very capacious guarantee of freedom of religion; whereas the right against religious discrimination, they argue, ought to be treated on par with the right against racial and other forms of discrimination. A companion article, forthcoming in the next issue of the same journal, explains the implications of these arguments. In particular, it shows that religious establishment may sometimes be compatible with religious freedom, but is always discriminatory.
 
Tarun is the Professor of Public Law & Legal Theory at the University of Oxford and the Hackney Fellow in Law at Wadham College. He is currently on leave from Wadham, working as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Melbourne Law School.

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