EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P074)
Science, modernity and the attack on religion: explaining religious terrorism
Location U6-42
Date and Start Time 22 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Marcello Mollica (University of Pisa) email
  • James Dingley (Queen’s University of Belfast) email

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Short Abstract

The aim of this panel is to present a series of papers that will illuminate the various roles and place of religion in political violence and terrorism in particular, that whilst terrorism may seem 'mindless' to outsiders it is often functional and meaningful to its practitioners in religious terms.

Long Abstract

The current media focus is on Islamic terrorism but many l 'successful' terrorist organisations have been founded in religion or religious communities. The most important question is therefore - why religion? This is consistently overlooked in the literature on terrorism, yet both anthropology and sociology have a long history of fascination with religion and violence; from ritual violence to symbolic violence, the importance of martyrdom and of sacrifice to legitimising violence. The aim of this panel is to present a series of papers that will illuminate the various roles and place of religion in political violence and terrorism in particular, that whilst terrorism may seem 'mindless' to outsiders it is often functional and meaningful to its practitioners in religious terms. In particular we will look at how modernity poses particular problems for traditional religion, religious systems and religious belief due to the role of science in particular, which is seen as challenging fundamental religious tenets, relations and social systems as well as posing fundamental ontological challenges to traditional religion. We therefore seek papers that will look at the impact of modernity, particularly as represented in the impact of science, on traditional religion, its role in the lives of ordinary people and role and place of religious institutions in society and how this can be linked to understanding terrorism in general.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Geopolitical vector of Orthodoxy in Ukraine: national security context

Authors: Bortnikova Olena (Kyiv National University)  email
Yevhen Kharkovshchenko (Kyiv National University named by Taras Shevchenko)  email

Short Abstract

Today the situation in Orthodoxy in Ukraine is threatening to national security. The largest part of the Orthodox Church is under the jurisdiction of Russia, which is a destabilizing factor for society.

Long Abstract

The largest Orthodox churches in Ukraine are: the UOC MP, UOC KP UAOC who cannot find a common denominator to unite into a single church body and such divisions lead not only to decline of an unified Ukrainian Orthodoxy, but also constitute a threat to national security of the country. Accordingly, there is an actual problem of formation and recognition of the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church, which is not considered either by clergy or the believers as just a Church problem.

Orthodox Churches received their status «Local» mainly when their states have been extremely sensitive to the status of their Orthodox Churches. After all, the recognition or non-recognition of the autocephalous status of Orthodox churches was an indirect recognition or non-recognition of state of these nations.

The lack of an unified Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church undermined the international prestige of the country. Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the largest religious structure and hence the whole world identifies the Ukrainian Orthodox Church only as part of the Moscow Patriarchate, which helps destabilize Ukrainian society.

So we can say that the problems of Orthodoxy in Ukrainian society draw increasing attention to political problems, including the positioning of power . Therefore, we can confidently predict that in the church the self-determination of citizens will induce further political changes. But the politicization of these issues is fraught with the risk of polarization in the Orthodox and inter-regional relations.

Muslim terrorist stereotype's effects on the Muslim society of Turkey

Author: Elif Kanca (Yuzuncu Yil University)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper I investigate the construction of Muslim terrorist stereotype and its effects on the Muslim society of Turkey.

Long Abstract

In this paper I will investigate the construction of Muslim terrorist stereotypes and its effects on the Muslim society of Turkey. The Muslim terrorist stereotype, representing a foreign and pure evil threat, is gaining ground nowadays in many parts of the world as the idea of evil is increasingly associated with the Other, in this case to Christian societies, which marks and supports the symbolic borders of one's own personal and group identity, hence also posing an existential threat to both. The fact that the Muslim stereotype has been dynamic throughout its history is also a contributing factor in making out of it an unknown, mythical monster. This transformation, affecting all identities, is the main subject of this paper.

Women's rights between civil and religious laws: the Lebanese law on protection of women and family members from domestic violence and the religious authorities' opposition

Author: Benedetta Panchetti (ca' foscari University of Venice)  email

Short Abstract

On April, 1 2014 the Lebanese Parliament passed the first Law on the problem of domestic violence. It was an amended version of a draft written by the local NGO KAFA [enough] aiming to fight violence against women.

Long Abstract

On April, 1 2014 the Lebanese Parliament passed the first Law on the problem of domestic violence. It was an amended version of a draft written by the local NGO KAFA [Enough] aiming to fight violence against women. However, the parliamentary debate lasted four years because many religious authorities (backed by their co-religious deputies) opposed it on religious grounds, contesting articles intending to punish marital rape, not considered a crime under other Lebanese laws and in contrast with the marital right of intercourse granted under Sunnite and Shiite laws.

The debate touched both political parties and State-religion legislative power relations. Indeed, many Islamic clerics saw the articles as an attempt to undermine their full authority on personal status laws the Lebanese Constitution grants them on family laws. Even if the final draft did not, at the end, include 'marital rape', it was nevertheless the first step towards both women's protection and offenders' punishment regardless of their religion, thus implicitly affirming the superiority of the state law over religious ones.

The aims of this paper are twofold. On the one hand, it aims to study clerics' opposition reasons and the way it was shared by their representative political leaders; on the other hand, it will investigate the initial stage of the practical application of the Law as the first sentence based upon it was enforced by a State Court just one year ago while religious authorities opposed it.

Classical social theory and understanding contemporary religious terrorism

Author: James Dingley (Queen’s University of Belfast)  email

Short Abstract

The importance of applying social theory to understanding religious terrorism lies in the fact that it was largely concerned with both religion and violence as modern societies emerged in the 19th Century and traditional religion was challenged by science and industry.

Long Abstract

Both Anthropology and Sociology were heavily influenced in their formative years by the same classical social theory and fundamental in that social theory was an over-riding concern for the role and place of religion in society, indeed even identifying religion as society in Durkheim' case. However, whilst modern social theory tends to deride or dismiss classical social theory, especially in the case of post-modernism, it neither has been nor is tested to any significant degree in terms of understanding empirical reality, although Marx has been and is currently found wanting. However, it is the contention of this paper that classical social theory does stand up well to the test of explanation in the contemporary world, especially in the field of conflict analysis, especially in relation to an understanding of contemporary religious terrorism. Consequently this paper will explore explanations for modern religious terrorism utilising, in particular, the social theory of both Durkheim and Weber and go on to argue that such an understanding is a major gap in modern 'security studies' which is dominated by conventional International Relations and Politics which frequently fails to grasp much of what drives religious extremism and terrorist violence.

Being Ezidi in the Middle East

Author: Çakır Ceyhan Suvari (Yuzuncu Yil University)  email

Short Abstract

Why Ezidis are killed by Islamists? The reasons for this are discussed in this study based on my fieldwork done in the last year in North Iraq with Ezidis.

Long Abstract

The Sinjar/Şingal massacre carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in August 2014 meant the killing of thousands of Ezidis, a small religious group based mostly in Iraq. In addition, thousands of Ezidi women were made slaves in Nineveh Governorate of Iraq. This was not the first Ezidi's massacre in the Middle East as 72 massacres of Ezidi have been recorded in history. The last one is called 'the 73rd Ezidi massacre'. But why are Ezidis are killed by Islamists, why do they become targets? The reasons for this are discussed in this study based on my fieldwork conducted over the last year in North Iraq with Yezidis.

Religious independence of Chinese Muslim East Turkestan

Author: Chiara Olivieri (Universidad de Granada)  email

Short Abstract

The recent inclusion of Xinjiang in the Chinese nation and the independence (called terrorist) activities of the population, ethnically and religiously different from the majority group, have created the basis for the establishment of transnational conflictual relations between Uyghurs and China.

Long Abstract

Uyghur population is mired in a kind of constant conflict with the authorities of the Chinese central government, because of the participation by part of the population (especially younger ones) in local organizations declared Islamist terrorists, and the often violent acts the state claims such groups conduct.

Islam (pillars, customs, demonstrations) is the element of Uyghur identity that the State instrumentally employs in building the image of a "minority/otherness," separated from the "majority/normality," that is stigmatized and fixed as China. And yet, the conflict of Uyghur nationality-Central State relations, justified by an apparent ideological and ethnic incompatibility, masks a project of political state control, which is based on the fear of state disintegration and fighting against an "other" cultural identity to retain control.

We intend to contribute, within the framework of Decolonial Studies, a detailed overview of the current state of relations between the different powers that are in China, Central State/majority versus ethnic identities/minorities. We will study the ethno-political and religious nature of the conflicts and the theoretical and practical and social implications they have provided, in order to discover, describe and demonstrate the existence of what has been called epistemic racism, in which some elites breed underestimating racist practices at the expense of ethnically, racially and socially discriminated against groups.

Comparing sectarian migration waves: the Beqaa and Georgia

Author: Marcello Mollica (University of Pisa)  email

Short Abstract

Based on fieldwork carried out from 2011 to 2014 in Lebanon and Georgia, this paper examines increased religious revivals by reference to recent migration waves following the recent wars in Iraq and Syria.

Long Abstract

Based on fieldwork carried out from 2011 to 2014 in Lebanon and Georgia, this paper examines increased religious revivals by reference to recent migration waves following the recent wars in Iraq and Syria. The paper compares the way the Yezidi community entered into Christian Georgia and the way that Muslims and Christians of various denominations entry into Lebanon have been conducted and constructed different outcomes. On the one hand, in Lebanon, immigration led to increased polarization as the dynamics followed established sectarian routes leading to refugees clustering in homogeneous areas. On the other hand, in Georgia, immigration strengthened the Yezidi community which started making political demands in the host country. This paper will aim to shed light on the determinants that explain refugees' choices and locals' reactions.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.