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25.01.2020 14:16 Alter: 26 days

The Empire and Interreligious Conflicts


Call for Papers

Theme: The Empire and Interreligious Conflicts
Type: International Conference
Institution: Istituto Svizzero di Roma
  University of Bern
Location: Rome (Italy)
Date: 8.–10.6.2020
Deadline: 14.2.2020



This conference is a part of a broader project on epistemology of
interreligious conflicts. Its ongoing effort is to study such
conflicts, both conceptually and historically, as inter-epistemic
conflicts, namely as conflicts between radically different
conceptions and performances of truth.

The present conference, which will take place in Rome, is dedicated
to the political dimension of inter-religious conflicts, more
specifically to the role of the Empire.

Rome is in fact a striking paradigm for the central and ambivalent
role of the imperial power in the history of inter-religious
conflicts as conflicts on truth. The Roman Empire was, first, as
imperium, the commanding and oppressing power, a primary enemy of the
monotheistic message on divine and true justice, championed by both
early Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. Monotheistic truth was
spoken to Rome’s imperial power. Inter-religious conflict would be a
conflict on how to best resist the Empire.

Nonetheless, Rome, enemy and competitor, was also an inspiration for
the political vision of monotheism. The expansive, universal reach of
the Emperor, a king of kings, was a living model for the glory of the
Kingdom of God, Sovereign of the World. The monotheistic message,
like all truth, has a universal scope and accordingly a global,
imperial claim. The history of inter-religious conflict is thus also
a history of diverging strategies of coping with the Empire. The
Jewish-Christian conflict arises from different approaches to living
with Rome. Islam, emerging beyond Rome, interacts with different
Empires, whose inter-imperial competition with Rome will inform the
Islamic-Christian conflict.

Finally, besides being an enemy and role model for monotheism’s
universal message, the Roman Empire could be also imagined as the
external, neutral space, precisely a space of non-truth, which
enables the peaceful co-existence of multiple monotheisms, in
conflict with each other as well as with other truths. The Empire
puts an end to wars, or at least, to follow Carl Schmitt’s
theo-political notion of katechon, “hedges” war by postponing the
moment of truth.

Speakers are invited to reflect on these and other historical models,
first, with respect to various configurations of Roman Empires, West
and East, with their different political theologies and different
wars, but also with respect to other imperial and religious
constellations: like the Babylonian, the Persian, the Greek, the
Sasanian, and the different Caliphates.

The inquiry is not only historical, but ultimately concerns the
contemporary situation of inter-religious conflicts. Special
attention will be given to the modern condition, which is closely
linked to the disappearance of the Roman Empire, as well as, on the
one hand, the rise of territorially limited, particular
nation-states, and on the other hand, the rise of new forms of
imperialism and globalization (capitalist, technological,
informational etc.). Participants will be accordingly invited to
reflect on inter-religious and other inter-epistemic conflicts in
their relation to modern models and conceptions of empires (like the
Iberians, the French, the British, The (Third) Reich, the Czarist,
the USSR), as well as contemporary super-powers or regional powers
(like the USA, China and Russia, or corporate global powers such as
Walmart, Shell or Apple). These and other imperial constellations
will be contemplated in their relations to contemporary cultures and
conflicts of truth, such as the notions of “post-truth”, “return to
religion” and “conflict of civilizations”.

Presentations will be strictly limited to 20 minutes, followed by
discussion. Conference languages are English and Italian (with
simultaneous interpretation). Travel and accommodation costs will be
covered by the organizing institutions.

This call is especially addressed to potential speakers on empires in
antiquity and in the middle ages.

Organizers:
Luca Di Blasi (University of Bern)
Elad Lapidot (University of Bern)

Submission: February 14, 2020

Please submit abstracts of 200 words to Elad Lapidot
(elad.lapidot@theol.unibe.ch) and Luca Di Blasi
(luca.diblasi@theol.unibe.ch)