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Choreography of Sacred Space: State, Religion and Conflict Resolution

May 6, 2010 @ 2:00 pm - May 7, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

A conference on how some religions in conflict have collaborated on shared access to religious sites they hold sacred.  Negotiations over these sites in Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans and Palestine/Israel serve as models for toleration.

Co-sponsored by Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, and the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR), the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL), and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR) at Columbia University.


Thursday May 6th

14:00:  Greetings & Opening Remarks:  Professor Yesim Arat, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs

14:30 – 18:00 Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives,

Chair, Karen Barkey

  • Glenn Bowman, Comparative Perspectives on the Balkans and the Middle East
  • Anna Bigelow, Sacred Memories, Plural Realities: Remembering and Producing Shared Sacred Spaces
  • Dionigi Albera, Religious antagonism and shared sanctuaries in Algeria
  • Mete Hatay, Identity, Ethnic Conflict and Conflicted Heritage in Cyprus


Friday, May 7th

9:00 – 11:15 Anatolia

Chair, Osman Kavala

  • Robert Hayden, The Byzantine Mosque at Trilye: A Processual Analysis of Dominance, Sharing, Transformation and Tolerance
  • Rabia Harmansah, Secularizing the Unsecularizable: A comparative study of the Haci Bektash Veli and the Mevlana Museums in Turkey
  • Zerrin Ozlem Biner, Re-consolidating the borders between self and other and between self and the state: Ethnographic explorations of past memories and present struggles between Syrian Christians and Kurds at the margins of contemporary Turkey
  • Tork Dalalyan, Kurds and the Armenians in Eastern Anatolia


11:30 – 13:00 Balkans

Chair, Arzu Ozturkmen

  • Tijana Krstic, The Ambiguous Politics of “Ambiguous Sanctuaries”: F. Hasluck and Historiography on Syncretism and Conversion to Islam in 15th – and 16th-century Ottoman Empire
  • Tolga Esmer, A Rebel, a Saint, and a Contested Shrine: The Türbe of the 16th Century Sheikh Bali Efendi


14:45-16:45 Palestine/Israel

Chair, Elazar Barkan

  • Wendy Pullan, At the Boundaries of the Sacred, the Reinvention of Everyday Life in Jerusalem’s Al-Wad Street
  • Rassem Khamaisi, Conflict over Holy Sites in the City: Symptoms of the Conflict in Nature, Images and Type of the City


17:00 – 18:00 Roundtable Discussion


Speaker Biographies

Dionigi Albera is director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research and has been director of the Institute of Ethnology and Comparative Mediterranean since February 2006. He is also President of the Association of Mediterranean Anthropology and a board member of the Scientific Committee of the Museum of Civilization in Europe and the Mediterranean.  He received his PhD in Ethnology in 1995 at the University of Provence. His research areas include spatial mobility and social fluidity, forms of domestic organization, theoretical framework of an anthropology of complex societies, and mixing phenomena in the context of devotional monotheistic religions.

Ye?im Arat is Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogaziçi University. Educated at Princeton and Yale Universities, she has been Editorial Board Member of the International Journal of Middle East Studies; Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogaziçi University (1997-1999), and Visiting Scholar and Professor at different universities. His scholarly interests are in women’s political participation; problems of democratization; Turkish politics; gender-based violence and modes of resistance, and Islamist women in Turkish politics and the headscarf issue. Presently she teaches Gender and Politics, and other related subjects.

Elazar Barkan is Professor of International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, and the Director of its Human Rights Concentration as well as the Director of the University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.He was the founding Director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR). His research focuses on human rights, historical redress, conflict resolution, and reconciliation. His recent books include, The Rites of Return: The Failure of Minority Repatriation (with Howard Adelman, Columbia University Press 2011, forthcoming); Taking Wrongs Seriously: Apologies and Reconciliation (an edited volume with Alexander Karn, Stanford University Press, 2006); and Shared History – Divided Memory. Jews and Others in Soviet Occupied Poland, 1939-1941, (edited with Elizabeth A. Cole, and Kai Struve, 2008). A recent pertinent article: “Historians and Historical Reconciliation,” (AHR Forum) American Historical Review, (October 2009).

Karen Barkey is Professor of Sociology and History at Columbia University. Her main fields are Historical and Political Sociology. She studies Empires/Imperial Organization; Politics and Religion; Religious and Ethnic Toleration; The Politics of Sacred Sites. Her research focuses primarily on the Ottoman Empire, and recently on comparisons between Ottoman, Habsburg and Roman empires.Her first book, Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization (Cornell University Press, 1994), studies Ottoman strategies of control. It won the Allan Sharlin Memorial Award for outstanding book of the year in Social Science History, 1995 Social Science History Association. Her recent book, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2008), is a comparative study of imperial organization and diversity. It won two awards: Barrington Moore Award: best book in the area of comparative/historical sociology 2009 American Sociological Association and the J. David Greenstone Award for the best book in politics and history 2009, American Political Science Association.

Anna Bigelow joined the faculty in Philosophy & Religious Studies at NCSU in fall 2004 as Assistant Professor and recently (2009) won the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. She received her MA from Columbia University and PhD in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara where her focus was on South Asian Islam. Her book Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (Oxford University Press 2010) focuses on a Muslim majority community in Indian Punjab and the shared sacred and civic spaces in that community. Her current research, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is a comparative study of contested and cooperatively patronized multireligious sacred sites and the inter-religious dynamics that complicate or ameliorate these relations in plural democracies, namely India, Turkey, and Israel-Palestinian Territories.

Zerrin Özlem Biner studied Sociology and Social Anthropology at Koc University in Istanbul and at the Universities of London and Cambridge before obtaining her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Biner’s current research project is entitled “Imagined Cosmopolites of Mardin: An Ethnographic Study of Cosmopolitanism from the Margins of Contemporary Turkey.”

Glenn Bowman is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at University of Kent. He taught in the Anthropology Department at University College London before coming to Kent in 1991 to join in starting up an interdisciplinary programme (Communications and Image Studies) concerned with issues of representation and its social and cultural contexts. When that programme terminated in 1998, he formally joined the Anthropology Department. Here he has launched the MA programme in the Anthropology of Ethnicity, Nationalism and Identity and co-convened the MA in Visual Anthropology. Bowman is past Honorary Editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and is on the editorial boards of Critique of AnthropologyAnthropological Theory and Focaal.

Tork Dalalyan received his PhD in Humanities from Yerevan State University and the Institute of Linguistics at National Academy of Sciences in Armenia in 2002.  He is currently involved with a project at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University called “Conception of “Eternal Capitals” – from Ancient Cosmopolitan Cities to Modern Megapolises” funded by the Open Society Institute, HESP ReSET program.  Tork is an Associate editor of “Aramazd” Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies (AJNES).  His most recent publicationis “Identity Processes among the Kurmanji-Speaking Population of Armenia” (in Russian) New South Caucasus: to Reconsider Old Borders. Heinrich Böll Stifting, South Caucasus, 2008: 93-111.

Tolga U. Esmer recently submitted his dissertation at the Department of History at the University of Chicago in May 2009 and is currently an Assistant Professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, where he is beginning a unit in Ottoman and Turkish Graduate Studies. Dr. Esmer is a social and cultural historian of the Ottoman Empire, Balkans, and Middle East, and his research and teaching interests are in inter-confessional relations, borderland studies, comparative empire, micro-history and the history everyday-life, the history of social movements, and the history of violence. Dr. Esmer has lived in and undertaken extensive research in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Turkey.

Rabia Harmansah is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburg. She graduated from Hacettepe University in Ankara with a B.S. in Public Administration in 2000, and earned an M.S. in Middle East Studies from the Middle East Technical University in 2006. Her research interests include anthropology of religion, Islam and Orthodox Christianity, Mysticism-Sufism, religious practices, ethnic conflicts, nationalism, social landscape, collective memory, Cyprus, Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East.

Mete Hatay is Project Leader at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Cyprus Centre, where he works on demography, migration, and Islam in Cyprus. He is the author of numerous articles and reports on identity, displacement, and the politics of demography. For the past two years, he has been conducting research on cultural heritage politics as part of a four-year EU-funded project on conflict and cultural heritage.

Robert M. Hayden is Professor of Anthropology, Law and Public & International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is also Director of the Center for Russian & East European Studies. Professor Hayden has done extensive fieldwork in India, the Balkans and among the Seneca Iroquois of New York State, on various topics in legal and political anthropology. At present he is directing an international, multidisciplinary project on “Antagonistic Tolerance: A Comparative Analysis of Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites,” funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, with research conducted thus far in Bulgaria, India, Portugal and Turkey, and planned for Peru.

Osman Kavala took over the management of the Kavala Group of Companies in 1982 after the death of his father, Mehmet Kavala, and has since been working there as Vice-Chairman. The Kavala Group is active in real estate development, trading and mobile communications. He is currently the head of Turkish-Polish Business Council and a board member of the Foundation to Fight Soil Erosion (TEMA) and the Turkish chapter of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly. Mr. Kavala has served on the boards of various businesses and social organizations. He graduated from the department of economics of Manchester University after finishing Istanbul Robert Lycee.

Rassem Khamaisi is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Haifa. He is an Urban and Regional planner and Geographer, specializing in urban and rural geography.  The main focus of his efforts is towards geography and planning among the Arabs in Israel and the Palestinians in the Palestinians territory and Jerusalem, concentrating on public administration and participation and urban management. His publications in the field of policy research on urban planning and development in Jerusalem and among the Arabs in Israel include “The Wall of Annexation and Expansion: Its Impact on the Jerusalem Area” and, “The Impact of the Wall the Arabs In Israel.”

Tijana Kristic is a historian of the Ottoman Empire and is particularly interested in social, cultural and religious history of the early modern Ottoman and wider Mediterranean world. In this context, she specializes in relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, cultural encounter and mediation between Christendom and Islamdom, late Byzantine history, Ottoman-Venetian-Habsburg imperial rivalry, as well as subjects like Christian and Muslim mysticism and eschatology. She is currently working on a book that contextualizes Ottoman practices and narratives of conversion in a wider early modern Mediterranean framework.

Arzu Ozturkmen is Professor of History, Bo?aziçi University. Her areas of focus are Oral History and History of Emotions (Memory of Conflict), History of Performing Arts (National Celebrations, Dance History, Ottoman forms of performance), Folklore Studies and Black Sea Studies.  Professor Ozturkmen is a member of the American Folklore Society, a member of the Foundation of Turkish Economic and Social History, and the National Liason Officer of the International Council of Traditional Music.  Recent publications include “Muslim Women’s Folklore”, Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife (Eds) L. Locke, P.Greenhill & T. A. Vaughan, 2009, and  (With Joanna Bornat) “Oral History”, Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife (Eds) L. Locke, P.Greenhill & T. A. Vaughan, 2009.

Wendy Pullan is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Cambridge. She is Principal Investigator for ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’, a five year multidisciplinary and international research project supported by the Large Grant Programme of the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain (ESRC). She has published widely on urban issues, especially to do with Jerusalem and the Middle East. In 2006 Dr Pullan received the Royal Institute of British Architects’ inaugural President’s Award for University Led Research. She is a Fellow of Clare College Cambridge. For further information see: www.conflictincities.org.


May 6, 2010 @ 2:00 pm
May 7, 2010 @ 6:00 pm
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Bogaziçi University, Istanbul
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