Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites

Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Conflict Resolution

Elazar Barkan
Karen Barkey
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 440
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/bark16994
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  • Book Info
    Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites
    Book Description:

    This anthology explores the dynamics of shared religious sites in Turkey, the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, and Algeria, indicating where local and national stakeholders maneuver between competition and cooperation, coexistence and conflict. Contributors probe the notion of coexistence and the logic that underlies centuries of "sharing," exploring when and why sharing gets interrupted--or not--by conflict, and the policy consequences.

    These essays map the choreographies of shared sacred spaces within the framework of state-society relations, juxtaposing a site's political and religious features and exploring whether sharing or contestation is primarily religious or politically motivated. While religion and politics are intertwined phenomena, the contributors to this volume understand the category of "religion" and the "political" as devices meant to distinguish between the theological and confessional aspects of religion and the political goals of groups. Their comparative approach better represents the transition in some cases of sites into places of hatred and violence while in other instances they remain noncontroversial. The essays clearly delineate the religious and political factors that contribute to the context and causality of conflict at these sites and draw on history and anthropology to shed light on the often rapid switch from relative tolerance to distress to peace and calm.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53806-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-32)
    ELAZAR BARKAN and KAREN BARKEY

    Sacred sites that are shared by two or more groups have long been a source of intellectual and scholarly curiosity. These sites often have a dynamic history. In India, Palestine, the Balkans, and elsewhere, we can see fluctuations between periods of peaceful sharing and of conflict over joint use. At times these sites can become the locus of communal violence. Scholarly debates on shared sacred sites often focus on the meaning of “coexistence,” on the logic that reputedly underlies centuries of “sharing” and why that sharing gets interrupted by conflict. Among the studies that interrogate toleration, syncretism, and religious antagonism...

  4. 1 RELIGIOUS PLURALISM, SHARED SACRED SITES, AND THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
    (pp. 33-66)
    KAREN BARKEY

    Perhaps one of The most salient problems shared by our contemporary world and the field of social science relates to ethnic and religious conflict and coexistence. The question of what makes certain societies relatively tolerant of ethnic and religious diversity while others appear prone to conflict, violence, and even genocide remains unanswered. Many scholars want to understand how people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds manage to live together, cooperating across social boundaries, but also sometimes engage in life-threatening conflict. In this book, the sharing of sacred space—which has occurred freely in many mixed societies—is taken to reside...

  5. COMPARISONS:: CYPRUS/BOSNIA/ANATOLIA/ALGIERS
    • 2 THREE WAYS OF SHARING THE SACRED: CHOREOGRAPHIES OF COEXISTENCE IN CYPRUS
      (pp. 69-96)
      METE HATAY

      During the latest Muslim Kurban Bayrami holiday, many Turkish Cypriots milled in the narrow streets of north Nicosia, near the Lokmaci checkpoint, which had opened in 2008 after several decades of closure.¹ On the other side of this checkpoint is Ledra Street, a busy shopping area, and Turkish Cypriots on holiday were taking this new opportunity to shop in the wealthier and more attractive shopping areas of Cyprus’s south, or to visit its trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars. During the four-day holiday period, many Turkish Cypriot families patiently queued at the checkpoints, presenting their passports or identity cards to be...

    • 3 RELIGIOUS ANTAGONISM AND SHARED SANCTUARIES IN ALGERIA
      (pp. 97-129)
      DIONIGI ALBERA

      This essay deals with Muslim attendance at an important Marian sanctuary in Algeria, Our Lady of Africa in Algiers, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, and examines the sanctuary’s relationship to a changing political environment. I analyze how the political background frames the context for the choreography of daily life at this Catholic site, paying attention to the complexity of the interplay between different forces and interests in the colonial and, later, postcolonial state. Moreover, I take the issue of proselytism into account as a key factor in order to understand the political context and the symbolic repercussions of...

    • 4 CONTESTED CHOREOGRAPHIES OF SACRED SPACES IN MUSLIM BOSNIA
      (pp. 130-160)
      DAVID HENIG

      The sharing of sacred spaces by divergent social actors is by no means a new phenomenon. Yet shared holy places have recently attracted the attention of many scholars. Indeed, during the second half of the twentieth century many holy sites became the repositories and articulations of core collective identities’ rhetoric and claims. A “sharing turn” in the study of holy sites ensued from a considerable increase in the nationalization and politicization of sacred spaces in the past decades, such as the Church of the Anastasis in Jerusalem, or Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, India, to name just a couple of examples.¹...

  6. PALESTINE/ISRAEL
    • 5 AT THE BOUNDARIES OF THE SACRED: THE REINVENTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN JERUSALEM’S AL-WAD STREET
      (pp. 163-198)
      WENDY PULLAN

      With the protracted conflict between Israelis and Palestinians embedded in Jerusalem, the possibility of shared space has become fraught with resentments and misunderstandings. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths share some common traditions or overlap in their use of a number of sacred sites that have become major centers of contestation.¹ Disputes have raged and over the centuries different types of accommodation have been attempted with varying degrees of success. The term “status quo” emerged to describe designated long-standing holy places and the rights of their adherent faiths, but many sites endure an uneasy truce and periodically are the scene of...

    • 6 THE POLITICS OF OWNERSHIP: STATE, GOVERNANCE, AND THE STATUS QUO IN THE CHURCH OF THE ANASTASIS (HOLY SEPULCHRE)
      (pp. 199-234)
      GLENN BOWMAN

      Recent discussions of shared holy places naturalize situations of either antagonistic dispute or syncretistic mixing. Although each respectively recognizes more or less extended periods of sharing or of conflict, there seems in each formulation to be an underlying logic—either temporal or spatial—of “antagonistic tolerance” or of “syncretistic sharing.” This essay, partially ethnographic and partially historical, focuses on the Holy Sepulchre or Church of the Anastasis (resurrection, in Greek), the “mother church” of Christianity, in an attempt to shift the analytic logic away from the identities of communities that cohabit sites toward institutions that attempt to own, or at...

    • 7 CHOREOGRAPHING UPHEAVAL: THE POLITICS OF SACRED SITES IN THE WEST BANK
      (pp. 235-269)
      ELAZAR BARKAN

      Who organizes and who benefits from religious strife? This chapter explores several political riots in Jerusalem and the West Bank surrounding religious sites and the role played by the state in creating space for the riot and in responding to it. It argues that the riots serve a larger political agenda of aggravating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and are intentionally manipulated by the political entities that have the capacity to either inflame or contain the level of violence. It further claims that popular religious violence serves as an informal political tool that is used by formal governing bodies. The goal of...

    • 8 THE IMPACT OF CONFLICTS OVER HOLY SITES ON CITY IMAGES AND LANDSCAPES: THE CASE OF NAZARETH
      (pp. 270-296)
      RASSEM KHAMAISI

      As cities undergO dynamic changes, including demographic, geopolitical, sociocultural, and economic transitions, the desire of ethnonational and religious groups to build new holy places—or to rebuild or repurpose existing holy sites—can create tension that has the potential to escalate into physical violence. This chapter focuses on the city of Nazareth in order to illustrate the theoretical and practical implications of ethnoreligious conflict among Arab Palestinian citizens in Israel that arises out of competing claims over the nature, essence, and representation of a holy place. In the case of Nazareth, a city that is subject to multiple faiths’ claims...

  7. MUSEUMS
    • 9 TOLERANCE VERSUS HOLINESS: THE JERUSALEM MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE AND THE MAMILLA MUSLIM CEMETERY
      (pp. 299-335)
      YITZHAK REITER

      The proposed museum of Tolerance (MOT) in Jerusalem, an initiative of the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, was planned, beginning in 1999, to occupy a portion of Mamilla Cemetery, an important Muslim cemetery that had been removed from use, rezoned for construction, and covered by a parking lot many years before. In 2006 a dispute over the museum suddenly erupted. The arguments advanced for and against the museum’s placement provide us with an opportunity to examine the choreography of sacred spaces around notions of sharing that are somewhat removed from the kinds of sharing encountered in sites...

    • 10 SECULARIZING THE UNSECULARIZABLE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE HACI BEKTAŞ AND MEVLANA MUSEUMS IN TURKEY
      (pp. 336-368)
      RABIA HARMANŞAH, TUĞBA TANYERI-ERDEMIR and ROBERT M. HAYDEN

      Sacred sites that are shared by members of differing religious communities create interesting dilemmas for analysis since they may often be seen as flashpoints of conflict but may equally well be perceived as places in which religious tolerance is exhibited, if not, perhaps, always with great enthusiasm by the parties involved. When de facto shared sites are also the focus of latent conflict and sometimes more open strife, there are practical problems of trying to provide systems of management that can make a site open to members of all communities who claim the right to be able to use it....

  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 369-394)
  9. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 395-400)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 401-428)