Glenn Bowman – areas of interest

I’ve been working over the past couple of decades on issues of how people in communities marked by diversity — particularly by different religious affiliations — manage for the most part to live together but, in certain circumstances, divide into antagonistic groupings which war with each other.  This concern, prompted by my ongoing work in Jerusalem and the Israeli Occupied West Bank (a.k.a. Palestine), involved me first of all with nationalist mobilisation amongst Palestinians and then brought me into Yugoslavia on the cusp of it becoming ‘Former Yugoslavia’. It’s also made me very interested in how ‘shared’ religious sites operate — how Muslims, Christians, and Jews can cohabit shrines for long periods of time, and how and why that cohabitation explodes under certain promptings into expulsive violence. This work, funded by the British Academy, has brought me into research in Macedonia, a fascinating area of continuing, if occasionally endangered, inter-communal cohabitation in the midst of the, for the most part, ethnically-divided territories of Former Yugoslavia.  Recently, prompted by the catastrophic developments in Israel-Palestine, I’ve been working on processes designed to block any contacts between communities, and this project — concerned with ‘walling’ — has not only led to investigations of the impact of the Israeli ‘Separation Barrier’ on populations on both sides of it, but also to fieldwork in Cyprus, itself divided by the ‘Green Line’. This work has been funded by the Council for British Research in the Levant. All of this research is dedicated to a critical investigation of the — I believe ungrounded — tenets of ‘Identity Politics’ which underlie powerfully dangerous arguments such as those of the advocates of the ‘Clash of Civilisations’.