Sharing Holy Places. From the Mediterranean to the Indian Subcontinent

Anna Bigelow, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University
Dionigi Albera, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence

We live in an age of racial, ethnic and religious tension. Our project produces an alternative narrative by asking why people cross religious boundaries, what social and cultural imaginaries make this possible, and what possible futures do these shared spaces suggest? Our goal is to document and analyze this understudied phenomenon by comparing such dynamics in the Mediterranean and South Asia. Though sharing sacred sites may seem especially unlikely for monotheistic traditions, in the Mediterranean world it is commonplace for followers of different religions to frequent the same shrines as a part of daily life, even in times of war. In South Asia, the sharing of sacred sites by both monotheists and multitheists has long characterized the devotional life of the region. These crossovers are not devoid of ambiguity and have led to conflict, partition and division. But they have also led to shared codes of moral conduct and feeling, strengthening bonds between diverse religions, genders, classes, races, and ethnicities. This project brings together experts in these regions and promises to produce comparative analytics that will illuminate the dynamics of both antagonism and collective peace, thereby amplifying the productive potential of these models through academic conferences and research projects.

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