This panel explores ethnographic examples in which religion fosters social cohesion. We analyze the usefulness of the concept of unity in diversity and call for papers exploring interreligious devotion and multi-faith pilgrimage sites in Europe.
At a historical moment in which the European Union is experiencing a profound institutional crisis and the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 have fueled debates about religion as a source of conflict, in this panel we want to explore ethnographic examples that show how religion can foster social cohesion and offer positive models for peaceful coexistence in Europe. We are particularly interested in exploring the concept of unity in diversity, employed among others by medieval philosopher Nicholas of Cusa and currently adapted and used in different political and religious contexts. We want to understand if this concept is useful to understand how specific cultures and religions can coexist and communicate within an interacting system that reunites them. We therefore call for papers that analyze how and to what extent interreligious devotion in general and interreligious pilgrimage sites in particular can offer positive examples for policy making in Europe and suggest strategies for fostering intercultural dialogue. These are some of the questions we propose to address: How are sacred sites in Europe currently used by members of different religious groups (e.g. Lourdes, Medjugorje, Stonehenge)? What are the strategies used to allow co-existence and dialogue at these sites? How to analyze rituals that reunite symbols and gestures from different religious traditions or imply the participation of various religious groups? How do these rituals foster interreligious dialogue and understanding? Do these examples of interreligious dialogue support the concept of unity in diversity as a tool that enhances European integration?