This course explored 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 learned about the nature of conflict in general and specifically about religious conflict. The course inquired 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 also has been explored during the course.
It began 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 gained 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 also “unpacked” different religious interpretations of sacred texts, understanded how these texts can be the foundation for either violence or peace.
Finally, the course offered some solutions – how religion and its spirituality, theologies, and methodologies can be used in the process of conflict transformation and peace-building. This has been observed from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives.