Religion and Identity in Post-Conflict Societies

(2015/1) Editor(s): Mile Babic(c), Susan Ross, Marie-Theres Wacker, Regina Ammicht Quinn
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Articles of the issue

Editorial: Religion and Identity in Post-conflict societies

Editorial

The question of religion and identity dates back almost to the beginning of humankind. During history, religion has often been linked to identity, with religion playing the role of support or advocate of the dominant politics.

We needn't go far in order to come up with many an example of pernicious relationships between religion and both political and social identity. Historically closest to European thought is the ex-Yugoslavian conflict where the wars were not religious (although some historians and scientists claim otherwise), but they were fought with the aim of territory conquest and ethnically clean territory. Here, religion often served as a propellant of conflicts – soldiers went to war with their weapons blessed and prayed not for the end of the war, but for victory over the enemy.

Moreover, in very complex identity constructions, especially in those areas where national, ethnical and political identities are historically and politically closely related, along with religious identity of individuals and communities, it is sometimes very hard to draw a clear line between religious and all other identities which define the members of that particular society. The question arises: how can religion become and remain the main moving force of non-violent action, reconciliation and the search for justice in societies affected by war or major conflicts? In what way can religion become the healing factor in those societies? In societies where ethnic and national identities are closely knit with religious identity, the latter goals and motivations are bound to collide with national and/or ethnic goals. This doubt and an attempt to find a key to these relationships represent a big challenge to religious institutions and individuals in societies which take part in direct conflict, be it recent conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia, or, to bring in other examples, those in the Philippines or South Africa.

This situation largely accounts for the decision of the International Journal of Theology Concilium to hold its2014 annual meeting in Sarajevo, the symbol but also the scene of the greatest conflict in Europe after World War II and the place in which the Great War (1914-1918) was initiated. Under the auspices of the city of Sarajevo, a conference on “Theology in a Postconflict Society – Religion and Identity” was held on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. It was organized by the International Journal of Theology Concilium, the International Center for Ethics in the Sciences of Tübingen, Germany (IZEW) and the Franciscan Faculty of Theology, Sarajevo.

Dilemmas and Trajectories of Peace

Abstract: Felix Wilfred

The so-called religious conflicts are characterized by complexity and need to be situated in their social, political and cultural contexts in which there are competing identities on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion, history, sub-nationalities and so on. Religion is an important marker of identity, and it also supplies symbols, myths and emotional power to conflicts, which are instrumentalized by vested interests. It is caught in a dilemma between conflict and its vocation for peace.  To become  truly builders of peace, religions need to take into account the fluid and porous nature of all identities – including  religious ones, cultivate  a sense of multi-layered identity in the life of individuals and communities, join forces with initiatives of civil society and social movements, promote equity and justice, and help to heal memories and rewrite history. All this would call for a new educational praxis on the part of religions.    

Religions, identities and Conflicts

Mile Babić

Übersetzt von: Synke Thoß und Mirsad Maglajac

Zusammenfassung:

In diesem Essay möchte ich zeigen, dass die Frage der Identität (der individuellen wie der kollektiven) erst dann wichtig wurde, als der Pluralismus in allen Bereichen und auf allen Ebenen des menschlichen Lebens auftauchte. Religiöser und weltanschaulicher Pluralismus ist die Voraussetzung für die Frage nach religiöser Identität und deren Beziehung zu Angehörigen anderer Religionen und Weltanschauungen. Da die Reaktion auf den Pluralismus sowohl positiv als auch negativ sein kann, war sie bisher überwiegend negativ, weil sie Angst vor dem Anderen auslöste, vor allem pathologische Angst. An die Stelle von individueller trat individualistische Identität und an die Stelle von kollektiver die kollektivistische Identität. Beide Identitäten sind eine Nötigung: die kollektivistische reduziert den Menschen auf ein bloßes Mitglied des Kollektivs, während die individualistische den Menschen von allen seinen Zugehörigkeiten befreit. Diese beide Identitäten führen entweder zu Aggression oder in die Selbstisolation. Die individualistische Identität verwandelt das menschliche Ich zum Idol. Die kollektivistische hingegen macht das Kollektiv zum Idol. Der Ausweg aus dem Paradigma der Angst und damit auch aus der aufgenötigten Identität ist nur dann möglich, wenn uns bewusst ist, dass die Beziehung des Menschen zum Anderen essentiell für seine Identität ist, dass das Du das Ich ermöglicht, dass das Du älter und fundamentaler ist als das Ich.

Living in No-Man’s-Land

Regina Ammicht Quinn

Abstract

Identität ist ein Krisenbegriff – denn Identitäten sind nicht einfach „da“, sondern müssen entworfen und entwickelt werden. Wo im religiösen oder nationalpolitischen Bereich Krisen aufbrechen, werden Identitäten häufig über Zugehörigkeiten verhandelt und vereindeutigt.

Danis Tanovic, bosnischer Filmemacher und Hannah Arendt, deutsche jüdische Philosophin, haben ihre eigenen Erfahrungen mit nationalpolitischen Krisen und den Krisen von Identität. Tanovic zeigt im Narrativen, was geschehen kann, wenn im Niemandsland, im Raum zwischen den Fronten des Kriegs, Menschen unterschiedlicher Identitäten und Zugehörigkeiten aufeinandertreffen. Hanna Arendt’s diskursive Warnung, dass„wer“ jemand ist, nie durch „was“ jemand ist, überlagert oder ausgelöscht werden darf, kann als Kommentar zu Tanovics Film gelesen werden – 40 Jahre vor dessen Entstehung. Ihr Diktum Kein Mensch hat das Recht zu gehorchen kann dabei zur Hilfe werden, Identitäten, insbesondere auch religiöse Identitäten, so zu konstruieren, dass sie nicht dazu beitragen, tödliche Konflikte zu schüren und zu perpetuieren.

Keywords

Identität; Danis Tanovic; Hannah Arendt; Konflikt; Autorität

Empires, Wars and Survival in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ugo Vlaisavljević

Summary

The major Bosnian ethnic communities are three in number because at least three past empires were so influential to the local population that the acculturation they once exercised has become determinative for the fate of many people. Each community has its own privileged imperial reference, and simultaneously excludes the similar references of its neighboring communities. They are different because their choice of constitutive imperial culture is not the same. What has been regarded by one Bosnian community as a very positive imperial influence, once adopted as its crucial segment of identity, for the two others it has been considered as a negative, perilous influence that should be rejected.

Identity, Tension and Conflict

Dževad Karahasan

Abstract

In der vorliegenden Arbeit werden anhand von Termini und Begriffen aus der Dramaturgie die Begriffe Identität, Grenze und Verhältnis zwischen Identitäten untersucht. Einer der grundlegenden Unterschiede in der Dramaturgie ist der zwischen Konflikt und Spannung. Spannung ist ein komplexes Phänomen, das aus mindestens zwei Relaten besteht, einem bestimmten Fundus an Gemeinsamem und Verbindendem zwischen den Relaten und einem entsprechenden Fundus an Unterschieden zwischen den Relaten und ihren Wünschen, Bedürfnissen, Absichten. Konflikt ist dagegen eine einfache Beziehung, in der die Identitäten, die in einem Spannungsverhältnis gestanden haben, auf nur eine Dimension und auf eine Beziehung, in der „Ich“ reines „Nicht-Du“ ist, reduziert werden. Der zweite Grundpfeiler der Arbeit ist die Überzeugung, dass das mit eindeutigen und eindimensionalen Identitäten und Verhältnissen operierende rationalistische Denken komplexe Identitäten und Verhältnisse, wie es individuelle menschliche Identitäten und die Verhältnisse zwischen solchen Identitäten sind, weder zu verstehen noch zu beschreiben vermag. Ihrem Komplexitätsgrad nach sind kulturelle Identitäten den individuellen menschlichen Identitäten nahe oder gleich, daher führt jeder Versuch, über kulturelle Identitäten mit den Methoden und Instrumenten des mechanischen und mathematischen Denkens nachzudenken, zu Vereinfachungen und zur Gewalt am Gegenstand des Denkens.

Identity and Narration

Aleksandar Hemon

Abstract

If identity is essentially constituted by narration, by stories every individual can freely develop, democracy means a space where storytelling is made possible, where stories of individuals can meet to mingle with other stories. Ethnic storytelling therefore is undemocratic; Balkan countries need to learn good story telling.

Religious and Ethnic Identities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dino Abazović

Zusammenfassung:

Der Text problematisiert die aktuelle Transformationsphase in Bosnien-Herzegowina. Ein Schwerpunkt liegt dabei auf der religiösen Wiedererweckung, beziehungsweise dem spezifischen Nexus der ethnisch-politischen Deutung der historischen Rolle von Religion bei der Gestaltung der dominanten Ethnizitäten in Bosnien-Herzegowina. Ferner wird ein kurzer Rückblick auf das Phänomen des religiösen Nationalismus in Bosnien-Herzegowina geworfen.

Liberation Hermeneutics through the I’s / Eyes of the (Female) Moor

Sarojini Nadar

Summary

The objective of this paper is to explore to what extent the bible holds possibilities for peace in a post-conflict society.  The paper grapples with the question of the role of liberation theology, more specifically biblical liberation hermeneutics in post-apartheid South Africa, and suggests that some theoretical and paradigm shifts in liberation hermeneutics needs to occur if holistic liberation is ever to be realised. Using AnouarMajid’s concept of “the moor” as a heuristic tool, the paper attempts to grapple with the complexity and nuances of liberation hermeneutics particularly in post-conflict societies.

Religion as Social Capital for Building Peace

Daniel Franklin Pilario

Abstract

The article tackles the notion of social capital as applied to religions in post-conflict societies. Situated in the pastoral experiences in Southern Mindanao (Philippines), this reflection attempts to rethink the overly optimistic concept of (religious) ‘social capital’ advanced by the Harvard-based political theorist, Robert Putnam, and the World Bank – by laying down both its advantages and difficulties as it is played out in this long-standing Christian-Muslim conflict in Asia. It argues that experiences from the rough grounds can and do challenge dominant theoretical presuppositions almost taken for granted by scientific discourses. The article also explores the repercussions of this theoretical direction to theological thinking and pastoral practice.  

Faith as Spiritual Capital

Pero Sudar

Sažetak

Objava i kršćanska teologija, kao temelji kršćanske antropologije, nedvosmisleno otkrivaju i tumače Boga kao čovjekoljupca i zaštitnika njegove slobode i mira. Istinska vjera u Boga, koji je stvorio i voli sve ljude, nužno isključuje nasilje. Što više, svaka istinsko ljudsko vjerovanje u Boga, unatoč svih ljudskih krivih shvaćanja i povijesnih naslaga, nudi dostatno nadahnuće za ljudske i bratske međuodnose. Naime, nepatvoreni odnos vjere prema Bogu osposobljava vjernika i za  intelektualno-duhovni napor promatranja čovjeka Božjim očima na što upućuju i potiču temeljne istine svih vjera. Stoga vjerodostojnost govora Crkva i vjerskih zajednica o Bogu i o eshatološkome usmjerenju čovjeka, s pravom, umnogome zavisi o njihovoj sposobnosti  međusobnoga  priznavanja i zajedničke zauzetosti za mir kao najveće opće dobro čovjeka i čovječanstva.

Holy Lands and Sacred Nations

Pantelis Kalaitzidis

Summary

The confusion between religious and national identity, and the use of religion as identity formation process, as well as the ethnic, racial, or religious conflicts we see in many settings (as for instance in the Balkans), are related to a very important and serious phenomenon: the claim of territorial exclusivity, and the consequent pursuing of a nationally, racially, and religiously “pure” country, which is very often accompanied by a theology of self-justification and spiritual self-sufficiency, and the exaltation of collective egoisms. This idolization of religion, tribe, and nation, this odd paganism of earth, soil, and homeland, seems to be a real temptation for many Christian, and particularly Orthodox peoples, who, due to their painful historical experiences, come often to identify church and nation.

What Does it Mean to Be a European muslim?

Dževad Hodžić

Zusammenfassung:

Die Zukunft der Menschheit wird in hohem Maße von den Beziehungen zwischen den Weltreligionen abhängen. In diesem Zusammenhang gewinnt die Frage der Situation der Muslime in den modernen westeuropäischen Gesellschaften an zusätzlicher Bedeutung. Die Situation der muslimischen Gemeinden in den westeuropäischen Gemeinschaften wird in hohem Maße vom muslimischen Selbstverständnis abhängen. Diese Abhandlung befasst sich mit den folgenden wichtigen Merkmalen des modernen muslimischen Selbstverständnisses im europäischen, politisch-rechtlichen und kulturellen Kontext: mit der Frage des ursprünglichen islamischen Religionskonzeptes, der Frage der muslimischen Haltung zur Moderne, der konstitutiven Bedeutung des interreligiösen Dialogs sowohl für die islamische Offenbarung als auch die moderne islamische Identität in Europa, der inklusiven islamischen Theologie, dem islamischen Denken und der Ausbildung in den Sprachen der dritten Generation  muslimischer Europäer. Im Rahmen dieser Bezugsgrößen verlangt die europäische islamische Identität nach einer selbstkritischen Haltung, nach Dialog, Bewegung und Aufgeschlossenheit.

Stichwörter: Europäische islamische Identität, Europäischer Kontext, plurale Theologie, interreligiöser Dialog, dritte Generation, Religionsbildung, Diaspora, liberale Ordnung, Säkularismus und Aufgeschlossenheit.

What Does it Mean to Be a European Theologian?

Erik Borgman

Summary

This article reflects on the position of European theology in the light of the fate of Sarajevo. Drawing on a book written in 1993 during the siege of Sarajevo by Dževad Karahasan, it argues that European theology must respond to the discovery that at times truth and goodness can only survive by being hidden in the dark.. This means that European theology cannot trust in what is generally considered revealing and enlightening, as it has done so often since the 1960s. Starting from a story by the half-Jewish, half Serbian writer Danilo Kiš (1935-1989), it is argued that theology’s calling is to knowingly not be masters of, but rather beggars for sense, meaning and the grace to meaningfully mirror God’s passionate love for the destructed and scarred world we inhabit.

The Crucified God in a Crucified Region

Stipe Odak

Capital and Inequality: Thomas Piketty

Klaus Raupp & Luiz Carlos Susin

Gender and the Croatian Bishops’ Conferences

Jadranka Rebeka Anić &

Jadranka Brančić

Concilium 1-2015 Religion and Identity in Postconflict societies

Table of contents
  1. Puzzle of identity: necessity of the new ‘politics of identity’?

Felix Wilfred, Religion and Competing Identities: Dilemmas and Trajectories of Peace

Miroslav Volf, Religions, Identities, and Conflicts

Mile Babić, Individual and Collective Identity

  1. Identities in the Vortex of the Conflict: (Narrative) constructions and Deconstructions

Regina Ammicht-Quinn, Man's Life in No Man's Land

Ugo Vlaisavljević, Ethnic and Religious Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Empires, Wars and Survival

Dževad Karahasan, Identity, Tension and Conflict. Thesis' for a Conversation

Aleksandar Hemon, Identity and Narration

  1. Religious potential for peace: soothing illusion or unreached reality?

Dino Abazović, Religious and Ethnic Identities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: On Historical and Political Conditionalities

Sarojini Nadar, Liberation Hermeneutics through the I’s/Eyes of the (Female) Moor in a Post-Conflict Society

Daniel Pilario, Religion as Social Capital for Peace-building?

Pero Sudar, Faith as Spiritual Capital and Religion as a Moral Imperative for Peace Building

  1. Unfinished Project of United Europe: Common Responsibility of Religions?

Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Holy Lands and Sacred Nations:Christian Identity, National Identity and the Claims of Territorial Exclusiveness

DževadHodžić, What Does It Mean to Be a European Muslim?

Erik Borgman, What Does it Mean to Be a European Theologian?God’s Hidden Presence as Space for Non-Violent Antagonism

Theological forum

Stipe Odak, Review: Theology: Descent into Vicious Circles of Death; On the Occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of 'The Crucified God,', Zoran Grozdanov (ed), Ex libris, Rijeka, 2014

Klaus Raupp, Luiz Carlos Susin, Capital and Inequality: A Brief Review of Thomas Piketty’s Bookand Some Relations with Catholic Theological Ethics

Rebeka Anić, Jadranka Brnčić, Misunderstandings on the concept of gender. Reaction on a document of the Croatian Bishops' Conference.