Celebrating difference, promoting division? Religion, culture and conflict in Northern Ireland and former Yugoslavia; Workshop at Lichtenberg-Kolleg with public lecture, 29 January 2010

Conflicts, including armed conflicts, are often prepared and fought along the faultlines of religious belief. In some situations, this occurs when an attempt is made to enforce a new belief system; in others, discrimination on grounds of religious belief can lay the groundwork for conflict. Where religious affiliation and ethnic background are closely connected, religious identity may be instrumentalised as a means of promoting or justifying conflict. In contexts such as these, the celebration of religious difference, heritage and identity may - consciously or unconsciously - become a barrier to peaceful conflict resolution; it may itself become the battlefield, literally and metaphorically.

This one-day workshop, organised in conjunction with the research group "Music, Conflict and the State", will look at how the collective memory of past, religiously motivated conflicts, transmitted through cultural practices including song, other forms of oral tradition, and ritual, can increase religious tensions in the present day, hindering peace-building efforts and/or being instrumentalised to advocate division, hatred, and even violence. It will also discuss different strategies to respond to the use of culture and cultural heritage to exacerbate conflict. The workshop will focus on two regions with a recent history of violent conflict in which religious and ethnic identity has played an essential role, Northern Ireland and former Yugoslavia.

Invited speakers

Dr. Dominic Bryan, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland
Orange Parades in Northern Ireland: History, Development, Policing

Dr. des. Jackie Witherow, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland
Protestant Flute Bands and Identity in Northern Ireland today

Prof. Svanibor Pettan, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Hidden Others of the Kosovo Conflict

Cultural property, religious freedom and international law
Round table: Causes of conflict and chances for peace
Prof. Svanibor Pettan, Dr. Dominic Bryan, Prof. John Sloboda (Royal Holloway University of London)
Chair: Dr. Rachel Beckles Willson (Royal Holloway University of London)

Lichtenberg Workshop Photo

The research group published a short report on this workshop in the quarterly journal Die Musikforschung, edited by the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung in its issue Heft 3, July - September 2010.