Cities of Gold
Cities of Gold
Teaching Religion and Violence through “Sacred” Space
In order to examine the larger theme of religion and violence, this essay describes a course its author regularly teaches on the theme of contested space that is constructed as “sacred” by practitioners of different religious traditions. It focuses on Jerusalem, claimed by rival groups who identify with either Islam or Judaism, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The course objective is threefold: (1) to get students to think about critical theory and method in religion by using concrete examples; (2) to prod them to think about religion as a humanly constructed phenomenon as opposed to a divinely given one; and (3) to get them to reflect critically on how the “religious” intersects with phenomena from which it is customarily differentiated: the political, the ideological, the economic, etc. The present chapter explores these theoretical issues and their practical consequences as they revolve around this specific course, followed by a discussion of the author’s reasons for teaching it.
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