In this series, we introduce the researchers of the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives.

Pamela Slotte is the Vice-Director of EuroStorie as well as the leader of the subproject 2, Discovering the Limits of Reason – Europe and the Crisis of Universalism. She is an Associate Professor in Minority Studies at Åbo Akademi University and a Principal Investigator in the HERA funded research project Protestant Legacies in Nordic Law: Uses of the Past in the Construction of the Secularity of Law (2016-2019). Pamela’s background lies in theology, and her research has encompassed topics of moral philosophy, philosophy of religion, religious freedom, human rights, history of ideas, political theology as well as broader themes of law and religion.

Pamela has a Master’s degree in theology from Åbo Akademi University. In her studies, she focused on ethics and philosophy of religion. Her Master’s thesis dealt with hermeneutics – it focused on feminist political/liberation theology from the 1960’s onwards and its critique of theological language, inspired among other things by Marxist critical theory. Pamela’s doctoral dissertation instead was an interdisciplinary study that combined ethics and international law and focused on human rights as a moral and legal concept. It proposed a new conceptual framework for understanding ‘human rights’ as to both a moral and a legal dimension, how these dimensions are related, and in which way there may be established a link also to religion. The dissertation hereby consciously sought to move beyond what has been described as a deadlock in the debate between so-called universalists and cultural relativists when it comes to human rights and morality.

After completing her PhD, Pamela became a researcher at the University of Helsinki, at the Faculty of Law and its Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. Since then, she has carried out research related to the history and theory of human rights, a result of which is for example the coedited volume Revisiting the Origins of Human Rights, published by Cambridge University Press. She has also been examining various intersections between law and religion, and structural biases and conceptual presuppositions influencing legal governance of religion. As part of conducting this research, she has been a visiting researcher in Germany, Denmark, the US and England.

Right now Pamela is leading the Finnish team in an international research group that consists of theologians and legal scholars, including church historians and legal historians. The project, Protestant Legacies in Nordic Law, examines how legal culture has interacted with religious culture – and vice versa – for these past 500 years since the Reformations. Pamela’s input as far as the research goes, is to examine how Protestantism and legal culture have intersected in the Finnish context during the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st and how internationalization has influenced so-called religion law in Finland.  ‘Internationalization’ in this context means, for example, the increased influence of international and European law, including international human rights law, on the law of the land. 

These earlier mentioned themes are also present in Pamela’s research in EuroStorie. The subproject 2, lead by Pamela, argues that the idea of European universalism has been used in order to legitimize not only the political development of European societies, but also the propagation of European norms to other cultures. It looks at themes such as universalism and its crisis as well as liberalism and its crisis, but also at the notions of reason, teleology, community and pluralism. Pamela will survey how such ideas and themes have come up and been conceptualized and critically debated in theological conversations during the interwar period.

When it comes to research, Pamela's ultimate aim is a deepened understanding of this world and its different phenomena.

You can find Pamela Slotte's latest publications in Tuhat.