Religions Between Exclusivism and Dialogues
International seminars, research and publications

In recent decades, the world has witnessed many “religion” conflicts, such as the rise of radical Islamist movements in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, the conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Nigeria, the revolt of Tamils in Sri Lanka, along with several different kinds of Islamic terrorist movements (From Boko Haram to Daesh, Afghanistan, Iraq), as well as Hindu and jewish fundamentalism.

At a first glance, the existence of such conflicts and movements seems to endorse the controversial hypothesis expressed by Samuel Huntington in his famous book “The Clash of Civilizations” (1996) – the post-Cold War scenario characterized by clashes in the “divided country”. The so-called “religious wars” are hardly solvable because they involve the identity of individuals and their membership, but, at the same time, also a reference to transcendence. For these reasons, conflicts that refer to a religious background are often very disruptive.

The double aim that inspired this project wants to be in contrast to the mainstream narrative: on the one hand the aim is to understand what the actual role of what we call “religion” from a Western perspective is in this organized violence of recent years, and on the other hand this project aims to reflect and stimulate reflection on the role of religions as peace-builders. Both issues point to a far more profound aspect which must be taken into account: the ability of religions to interpret and express the ambiguity of the human condition, including its potential for violence and its strategies for interpreting it and handling it.

Preparatory seminars, public conference and publications

The Religions Between Exclusivism and Dialogues research project is conceived as a long term research and editorial project, involving international scholars and researchers who will be invited to gather in several closed-door research seminars in Europe, the Middle East and the United States, leading to one or two larger public conferences.

Two preliminary meetings for this project have already taken place in Amman, Jordan, in Spring 2014 and Spring 2015, as well as in the United States, on the occasion of the conference “Religious Wars in Early Modern Europe and the Contemporary Islamic Civil War” held at Columbia University, New York, in Fall 2014. Further preparatory seminaries have taken place in Italy, in collaboration with the State University of Milan and the chair of Canon Law (Prof. Silvio Ferrari), on the topic “Conversion, Proselytism and Religious Freedom” (April 2015) and another Conference on the topic “Making Democracy One’s Own: Muslim, Catholic and Secular Perspectives in Dialogue on Democracy, Development, and Peace” was organized in May 2016 in collaboration with the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; the School of Global Studies of the University of Sussex; the John Cabot University Interfaith Initiative; the University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway; the Religions in the Global World program of Sophia University Institute; the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, the Policy Planning Unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.