Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites in the Balkans & Turkey

Thursday, October 29, 2009
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Room 1219 International Affairs Building

Please join the Harriman Institute in welcoming Robert M. Hayden (University of Pittsburgh).

“Antagonistic Tolerance” describes long-term interaction over long periods, between Self – and Other –defining communities who live intermingled but not intermarrying. The model predicts long periods of peaceful interaction and even religious syncretism when dominance of one group over the other is clear but periods of violence when dominance is threatened. The Antagonistic Tolerance model sees ethno-religious conflict as due neither to supposed “ancient hatreds” nor to the machinations of political entrepreneurs, but rather as a form of contestation between self-distinguishing groups that is usually peaceful but sometimes violent, with both conditions predictable when relative dominance is known.

This lecture looks at “antagonistic tolerance” as it has been manifested in Anatolia and in the Christian-dominated countries that won independence from the Ottoman Empire. Dominance is often symbolized by control over major religious sites, and such sites provide a focus for contestation when dominance is unclear. A number of such sites will be analyzed in this lecture.

The larger Antagonistic Tolerance project from which the materials for this lecture have been drawn focuses on similar phenomena in Bulgaria, ancient India, formerly Portugese India, Portugal from Roman times through the reconquest, and Turkey. This larger project has been funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Suggested reading: Robert M. Hayden, “Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites in South Asia and the Balkans.” Current Anthropology 43 (April 2002), 205-219.

Robert M. Hayden is Professor of Anthropology, Law and Public & International Affairs and Director of the Center for Russian & East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is well known as an expert on the contemporary Balkans, and has also done extensive research in and on India. Professor Hayden is Principle Investigator on the Antagonistic Tolerance project.

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute