Religion and Conflict: The Balkans’ Explorations vs. Explorations of the Balkans
Course Description and Objectives
This course will explore the processes of how political and ethnic conflict can become “religious”, on the one hand, and how religion can itself generate conflict, on the other. During the course, students will learn about the nature of conflict in general and specifically about religious conflict. The course inquires into various interactions between religious and ethno-national identity, with special attention paid to inter-relations among different religions in the Balkans. The relationship between religion and ethnicity, politicized aspects of religious conflicts, and the place of religion in relation to questions of nationalism and hegemony will also be explored during the course.
It will begin with an examination of the complexities of conflict and related academic theories of conflict and religion, as well as the nature of the violence which often follows conflict. Students will gain an understanding of the role of religious communities (Jewish and Islamic) and churches (Catholic and Orthodox) in Balkans at the end of 20th and beginning of 21st century, as well as during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1991-1995).
In addition, students will be able to “unpack” different religious interpretations of sacred texts, understanding how these texts can be the foundation for either violence or peace.
Finally, the course will offer some solutions – how religion and its spirituality, theologies, and methodologies can be used in the process of conflict transformation and peace-building. This will be observed from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives.
Dr. Dino Abazovic is a sociologist and a professor at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has also worked as the Director of the Human Rights Center of the University of Sarajevo and as the Academic Coordinator of the Religious Studies Program of the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at University of Sarajevo. His research is focused on the role of organized religion in conflict and post-conflict societies, the political role of religion in post-socialist transition and religious revivalism, as well as a nexus between religious claims, transitional justice and human rights in emerging democracies.
Dr. Abazovic has conducted research in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He has published a number of chapters and papers in English and the South-Slavic languages, including three books in Bosnian (“Bosnian Muslims between Secularization and Desecularisation”, 2012; “Religion in Transition: Essays on Religion and Politics”, 2010, “For God and Nation: Sociological approach to Religious Nationalism”, 2006), and co-authored a book with Jelena Radojković and Milan Vukomanović (“Religions of the World: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam”, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, 2007). With Mitja Velikonja he edited a book “Post-Yugoslavia: New Cultural and Political Perspectives”, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, UK, 2015, as a result of collaborative interdisciplinary study research project (group study fellowship) at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) 2012. He lives and works in Sarajevo.