'Sacred Violence, Sacred Peace': Religion in an Age of Conflict

Wednesday 5 April
The Stripe, King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, SO22 4NR

​Following 9/11 and the rise of Islamist movements such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, much has been written on the relationship between violence and religious militancy. Every day the news media report human suffering and atrocities in countries as diverse as Syria, Nigeria (Boko Haram), Thailand and Israel/Palestine. Religious zeal can motivate, inflame and legitimise violence, but also heal wounds, comfort victims and build bridges. International organisations, governments and policymakers, who have conventionally seen religion as contributing to violence, are increasingly recognising the role of religious peacebuilders as initiators, activists and catalysts. Leading spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu influence the global community towards ever greater commitment to human rights, while faith-based organisations offer local knowledge, moral authority and transnational religious networks.

Drawing on first-hand experience in (post-)conflict areas, Anna will evaluate the impact of University of Winchester collaborative projects that bring together religious leaders, politicians, academics, civil society organisations and both victims and perpetrators of violence, as part of ongoing peace processes. Can ‘religious’ concepts of reconciliation and restorative justice support and/or challenge international liberal peacebuilding policies based on economic development, retributive justice and human rights?

This lecture is given by Anna King, Professor of Religious Studies and Social Anthropology​.

This is a University of Winchester Inaugural lecture.

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