Shared Sacred Sites

Shared Sacred Sites is a collaborative project that seeks to develop a rubric for the description, classification, analysis, and publication of work relating to spaces and locations used by multiple, disparate communities for religious purposes. The project is composed of several sub-projects that individually address different and particular difficulties in the study of shared sacred sites and that combine to form an important, updated, and modern survey of the unique features, mechanisms, and adaptations of coexistence found in the communities involved with shared sacred sites.

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“SACRED SITES that are shared by two or more groups have long been a source of intellectual and scholarly curiosity. These sites often have a dynamic history. In India, Palestine, the Balkans, and elsewhere, we can see fluctuations between periods of peaceful sharing and of conflict over joint use. At times these sites can become the locus of communal violence. Scholarly debates on shared sacred sites often focus on the meaning of “coexistence,” on the logic that reputedly underlies centuries of “sharing” and why that sharing gets interrupted by conflict. Among the studies that interrogate toleration, syncretism, and religious antagonism more broadly, scholarly explanations can often be divided to two ideal types: one that anticipates and emphasizes continuing conflict and the other that privileges peaceful coexistence. Both see periods of interruption in either coexistence or violence, but for both ideal types, the disruption is the exception that proves the rule.”
–Elazar Barkan and Karen Barkey, “Introduction” in Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites, 2014: 1

The sharing of spaces, sites, and symbolism by multiple religious communities demonstrates the practical choreographies and social possibilities of cooperation between potentially antagonistic communities, and the study of such sharing provides key insights into characteristics and features crucial to the cultivation of tolerance and understanding.

To begin, select the sub-project of interest from the menu above or visit the about page for more information.