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The city is an artefact.

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Ethnic Violence

Many of the conflicts or mass violence of recent decades have been characterised by the adjective “ethnic”. This means that the leading players were groups opposing one another on the basis of identitarian, religious, linguistic or more generally cultural assertions..

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Following the conquest of the Americas, the word “mestizo” was used to indicate children born of parents belonging to different races, usually and an American Indian woman and a white man (or vice versa).

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The word genocide is nowadays used in a number of different ways and one must to try and analyse them separately, to the extent that this is possible.

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The Mediterranean

Mediterranean: literally the sea in the middle of lands, a bordering sea, and linking these lands. This characteristic makes the Mediterranean a sea that does belong to all the countries overlooking it, but to none in particular, a shared sea, not available for becoming private property..

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A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding

Dialogue of Cultures

Focus EXPO 2015 - Feeding the planet

European Halal. Theological definitions and social depictions

Khalid Rhazzali

The word Halal is part of a complex lexical and a conceptual system that is particularly refined in its more authentic and articulated configuration. The opposition between Halal (allowed) and Haram (not allowed) creates a broad area within which there are many intermediate words, such as, for example, Makruh (inadvisable) and Mubah (admissible), which allow one to contextualise the various forms of behaviour regarding an inclination to contribute positively or negatively to a relationship of a complex physical and spiritual order in both individuals and communities. Leaving aside the aspect usually addressed, that of vetoes concerning some types of meat or drinks, this system of precepts is best addressed from a theological perspective in which the believer is called upon to elaborate ways in which the best use of oneself can be made, in view of a more active and successful obedience to divine will.

Focus EXPO 2015 - Feeding the planet

Nourishing the Soul. Food and Religions

Contribtions by G. Filoramo, M.C. Giorda, K.Rhazzali, P. Stefani, D. Zoletto

A moment of sharing and gathering, a vehicle for traditions and a means of communication, food signifies far more than simply providing the body with the energy is requires to work. Food is also a religious symbol; it nourishes the soul and sharing it at the table is a moment of conviviality and intimacy with others. But what happens when we dine with someone only eating halal food? And what attitude should the authorities assume regarding school cafeterias when faced with families refusing to eat pork? And what answer should the state provide to those demanding to know how an animal was butchered before its meat is sold in supermarkets? - Read the special focus

In depth

Iran, a Journey Through the “Great Change”
Expectations and risks of the Rouhani Era

Marina Forti

Tehran - One front page headline reads “Delegation of U.S. oil companies to visit Tehran.” Others instead announced that “Trade delegations follow one another.” There have even been headlines stating “Crowds of foreign investors prepare to invade Iran,” with English-language Iranian newspapers not holding back in their use of superlatives and one column saying that Iran is the “last frontier” for international investors. Expectations are high, extremely high.

Philosophy and Religion

Islam and the West, Recovering the Keys to Openness

Mohammed Abed Al-Jabri interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg

"Are we perhaps condemned to remain prisoners of the logic of war that cannot perceive relations with others if not in terms that bring to mind hostility, such as peril, counter-position, conflict, threat etc.? In Western countries voices are raised almost everywhere against this way of seeing future relations between the West and other countries. People are starting to question the real meaning of this unfortunate dichotomy, as well as the reality it proposes to conceal. What does the East/West duality really mean through the history of European expansion, from Rome to the empires of modern colonialism? What does its current North/South replacement mean?" Part of this interview with Mohammed Abed Al Jabri was published in Fall 2006 by our Italian magazine Reset. On the occasion of the commemoration of the philosopher's fifth anniversary (d.2010), we are pleased to publish the full interview for the first time.  


Revisiting Averroes to Understand the “Other”

Mohammed Abed Al Jabri

This essay was published by our Italian magazine Reset n.97, Sept.-Oct. 2006The historical events that marked the years 1989-1990, the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the Communist bloc, paved the way for radically new perspectives in schools of thought and the collective imagination. The famous statement made by former American President George Bush Sr. announcing the “end of the Cold War” and the birth of a “new world order” provided this perspective with an official seal of approval. The entire world expected a radical change in international relations. Hopes were expressed, optimistic forecasts were made; the “end of history” was even announced with the definitive triumph of liberalism and democracy. In Third World countries there was hope that the West would renounce the “logic of war” that had characterised its relations with the rest of the world, applying more inspired policies now motivated by the values of Enlightenment, those of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Many members of the modern elites of these countries believed that the West, having won the Cold War, would encourage democratic change in the Third World. Some even stated that the West would certainly demand, as a starting point for all forms of cooperation with Third World governments, a real democratisation of political and social life as well as honest and real respect for human rights etc. Therefore, as far as people in the Third World were concerned, the West’s future relations with their countries would essentially have depended on making “new foreign policy” choices, continuing to manoeuvre within the framework of the same logic of war, or proceeding instead towards a real “reconstruction” of their own policies and strategies in order to allow relations with the South to be set within what was called the “post-Cold War” period.What has happened to those aspirations? In what way did the West perceive its future relations with the Third World in general and the Arab-Islamic world in particular? As far as politics are concerned, one must add that in the West, aspirations have now been replaced by scenarios created by professors of “strategic studies.” The observer preferring not to fall prey to the uncontrolled prejudices and reactions of fanatic and xenophobic right-wing environments, European and American, can satisfy all his curiosities by drawing on the self-proclaimed authoritative ideas of these professors.


Trivializing the Holocaust

Eric Salerno

As the people of Israel were honoring the victims of the Holocaust (April 16) and in the rest of the world people were remembering the day in which the gates of Auschwitz were opened, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman chose to offend memory and narrative for mere political reasons. He, as other Israeli leaders including Yair Lapid of the centrist party Yesh Atid (“There is a future”) criticized the request by 16 European Union foreign ministers to label Israeli products made beyond the 1949 armistice line as “Made in the West Bank.” A legitimate attack (from the point of those that sustain the ongoing process of colonization of the Palestinian territories) if not for the idea offered by the man responsible for the foreign policy of that country.

History and Politics

Turkey, Beyond the Armenian Genocide Debate

Verda Özer

“Prime Minister Erdoğan’s statement of condolence to the Armenians was a milestone in Turkey’s history.” This was the first sentence of my column in daily Hürriyet on April 26 last year. The then Prime Minister Erdoğan had made an unprecedented move in Turkish history by issuing an official statement offering condolences to Armenians on April 24, the 99th anniversary of the Armenian massacres. This year, however, April 24 arrives in Turkey in a totally different atmosphere. The declaration of Pope Francis last Sunday that “the Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century” and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week urging Turkey to recognize the genocide have rekindled the longstanding genocide debate in the country.


Political liberalism’s legacy: answering Bianchin and Del Bò

Alessandro Ferrara

I would like to warmly thank Bianchin and Del Bò for their careful analysis of my work and their constructive criticism. In a variety of ways they oblige me to specify more clearly what I meant and to once again reflect on my theses. I will start with the paper by Bianchin, who poses a fundamental problem concerning the strategy pursued in The Democratic Horizon. I will begin by clearing away a misunderstanding that luckily does not undermine the significance of his objection. On my part, there is no rejection of the “conjectural strategy” as stated on and then again on in his paper.

History and Remembrance

On the Centenary of Armenian Genocide
Again a war of Words and Anniversaries

Matteo Tacconi

The centenary of the Armenian genocide will go down in history, if for no other reason that Pope Francis’ words will still echo powerfully over the days and years to come. Many things have been said and written about Jorge Bergoglio’s speech and there is no need to add anything. Here the issue of the genocide’s centenary starts from a different perspective, to be more specific from a location; Gallipoli.


Pluralism, Deliberation and Multiple Democracies

Matteo Bianchin, Milan Bicocca University

In his most recent book, The Democratic Horizon, Alessando Ferrara discusses three ways in which contemporary political philosophy addresses pluralism in the “hyper-pluralist” context of contemporary societies. More specifically, he analyse Rawls’ political liberalism, the agonistic view of democracy of radical deliberative approaches, and  a “conjectural” strategy that aims at including non-liberal comprehensive doctrines in the democratic process. The problem is that the justification of democracy in a “hyper-pluralistic” society differs greatly from that of classical liberalism.


Cuius Religio, Eius Res Publica. From Multiple Modernities to Multiple Democracies

Alessandro Ferrara, University of Rome Tor Vergata

Along with the idea of "secularization", the theory of "modernization" has been recently questioned as yet another by-product of the Englightenment linear view of history. Drawing on Max and Alfred Weber's comparative work, on Karl Jaspers' notion of an axial age which encompasses a plurality of ancient civilizations, Shmuel Eisenstadt, Johan Arnason, Jan Assman, Björn Wittrock and a number of other leading social theorists have put forward a new framework for making sense of global history, known under the heading of "multiple modernities". In this paper, I will highlight some of the questions that the "multiple modernities" approach can generate in the specific field of political philosophy. Assuming that we can distinguish formal democracy as a set of procedures that can merely ritually be paid lip service to from "democracy with a democratic spirit", can we disentangle the "spirit of democracy" from its original roots in the culture of radical protestantism and envisage a plurality of "cultures of democracy" anchored to various civilizational bedrocks? Are "multiple democracies" genuinely viable versions of the same model of political order, or are they way-stations towards the Western modern form of liberal democracy?


Rights and Conflict in Multiple Democracies

Corrado del Bo', State University of Milan

Alessandro Ferrara’s excellent essay on multiple modernities and democracies is an important stimulus for reflecting on a number of issues that go beyond the borders of the academic debate, overflowing into the public sphere. Allow me to randomly list a number of questions. What is democracy? Is democracy only applied in the West? So what are those forms of government and legitimisation of political power that have at least a few of the characteristics we have come to know in our experience in the West as democracy? Is democracy a universally desirable objective? If so, when necessary, should we march bearing arms towards “exporting democracy”?

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