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Sacred Places:
Changing Interconnections Between Religion and Politics

5 – 7 December 2019
Leipzig University

Ahmet Kerim Gültekin (Leipzig University)
Nurit Stadler (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Funded by the Philipp Schwartz-Initiative

Sacred places around the world play an important role in shaping our understanding of religiosity, society, politics and culture. In the 21st century, sacred places worldwide have gained new attributes, becoming important identity indicators for diasporic communities, and constituting multicultural crossroads in border areas and along the symbolic boundaries between different groups.

The workshop will focus on the ethnic and territorial aspects of religion by studying sacred places that are located on borders between cities, states, and ethnic/religious regions, as well as in conflict zones and disputed territories. We wish to explore how sacred sites are becoming increasingly relevant in dictating, shaping, and negotiating geopolitical zones, ethnic identities, collective memory, and new political attitudes, as well as in reinventing cultural identities. Moreover, we wish to investigate how sacred places are being instrumentalised in relation to political as well as cultural boundaries between communities and borderlands in different places worldwide.


Thursday, 5 December

Strohsackpassage, Room 5.55 (5th Floor, Nikolaistraße 8-10, 04109 Leipzig)

6:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Welcome Address
Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Director, KFG "Multiple Secularities"), Ahmet Kerim Gültekin and Nurit Stadler

6:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Introduction of Participants

7:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Keynote Address
When Myths and Stories Become Shared Sacred Narratives

Karen Barkey (University of Berkeley)

7:30 – 9:00 p.m.


Friday, 6 December
Strohsackpassage, Room 5.55 (5th Floor, Nikolaistraße 8-10, 04109 Leipzig)

10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

1st Session: Saints Bodies and the Power of Sacredness
Chair: Marian Burchardt (Leipzig University)  

Av Xirawe – Mizur, the Sacred Body and Philosophy of Life
Dilşa Deniz (University of California San Diego, via Skype)

De-Pathologizing Madness – Therapeutic Power of Sacred Places attributed to Holy-Mad People of Dersim
Çiçek İlengiz (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)  

Sounding Intimacies – Wilfully Shia at a Saint's Place in Pakistan
Omar Kasmani (Freie Universität Berlin)

11:30 – 11:45 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:45 – 1:35 p.m.

2nd Session: Sacred Places, Politics and Revival
Chair: Nurit Stadler

Defending Shengal – An Analysis of Politico-Religious Developments around Yezidi Sacred Spaces
Benjamin Raßbach (Leipzig University) 

Creating the Uncreatable – The Impact of Political Upheavals and Intra-Communal Rivalry on Yezidi Sacred Space in Iraqi Kurdistan
Eszter Spät (Central European University, Budapest)

Kurdish Alevism and Sacred Places
Ahmet Kerim Gültekin (Leipzig University)

Central Himalayan Water Resources – Global Players on the Fields of Ecology, Religion and Politics
Gerrit Lange (Marburg University)

1:35 – 2:30 p.m.


2:30 – 4:20 p.m.

3rd Session: The Politics of Shared Sacred Places
Chair: Ahmet Kerim Gültekin

Shared sacred spaces and contested memories in Cyprus
Rabia Harmanşah (University of Cologne)

Aya Yorgi of Buyukada – A Shared Pilgrimage Site in Modern Turkey?
Mustafa Diktaş (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) 

Figures of Peace-Making and Interreligious Hospitality on Shared Sacred Sites
Manoël Pénicaud (CNRS, Idemec, Aix-Marseille University) 

Neogiating the (religious) Past and imagining the Future. The Controversy over the Ownership and the Public Meaning of the Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba

Maria del Mar Griera (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelone)

6:00 p.m.

Joint Dinner

Saturday, 7 December
Strohsackpassage, Room 5.55 (5th Floor, Nikolaistraße 8-10, 04109 Leipzig)

9:00 – 10:50 a.m.

4th Session: Sacred Places and Borders
Chair: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr

Sacred Places and Militarized Borderlands – Religious and Aesthetic Creativity in Walled Spaces
Elisa Farinacci (University of Bologna) and Nurit Stadler  

Piety Across the Borders – Gurudwara Darbar Sahid and Marking of the Kartapur Corridor between Pakistan and India
Christophe Jaffrelot (Science Po) and Jusmeet Singh Sihra (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)  

A Paradoxal Pilgrimage – Interconnections Between Religion and Politics at Ghriba Synagogue
Dionigi Albera (CNRS)  

Mediatizing Architecture – Social Media, Meaning and Materiality in Berlin’s House of One
Marian Burchardt (Leipzig University) and Johanna Häring (Leipzig University)

10:50 – 11:05 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:05 – 12:30 p.m.

Concluding Remarks
Chair: Markus Dreßler (KFG “Multiple Secularities”)