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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The emphasis of the field of religious peacebuilding on the potentially constructive role of religion in transforming conflicts should not preclude considering how the field might, and even should, also challenge religious traditions and political ideologies. Exploration of religious traditions’ peace-promoting resources and the very field of religious peacebuilding are largely grounded in Scott Appleby’s The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation. However, Appleby’s insight is misapplied if a preoccupation with theological retrieval impedes an examination of how interpretations of events from multiple perspectives may challenge and transform religious and political systems. Cultivating religious peacebuilding as a rigorous academic enterprise will entail questioning the field’s reliance on secularist presumptions about religion, which facilitate complicity with religion’s contribution to injustices. It also requires reconsidering the presumed unidirectionality of religion and historical change and connecting the field to broader conversations about religion in public life.

Keywords: religion, peacebuilding, rituals of peacebuilding, comparative ethics, religious violence, religious nationalism, ambivalence of the sacred, religious conflict

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