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Choreographies of Shared Sacred SitesReligion, Politics, and Conflict Resolution$
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Elazar Barkan and Karen Barkey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169943

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169943.001.0001

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Religious Pluralism, Shared Sacred Sites, and the Ottoman Empire

Religious Pluralism, Shared Sacred Sites, and the Ottoman Empire

(p.33) 1 Religious Pluralism, Shared Sacred Sites, and the Ottoman Empire
Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites

Karen Barkey

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores toleration and coexistence in three interrelated sections. First, it rethinks the conceptual language of coexistence, toleration, and violence in order to apply them to the long history of Ottoman pluralism, where toleration set the stage for centuries of coexistence in various religious, legal, and social contexts. Second, it explores key debates on the sharing of sacred sites and discusses how to bring some of the analytic dimensions used in the toleration discussions to bear on sacred sites. Third, it analyzes the historical circumstances that provided the context for the sharing of sacred spaces in the Ottoman Empire. The chapter then demonstrates that during the reign of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires the larger context of toleration and accommodation to diversity, especially of Christians across the frontiers, promoted the sharing of sacred sites between Muslims and Christians. While churches and monasteries were often converted to Islamic buildings, mixed worship became the rule in many places as openness to the other was encouraged by state authorities. Ottomans made a concerted effort to build institutions that were inclusive of the diversity of the empire, often positioning their foundations within reach of Christians and Jews.

Keywords:   toleration, coexistence, violence, Ottoman Empire, pluralism, sacred sites, sharing, sacred spaces, Seljuk, Christians

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