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April 19, 2015

Week 12: Clash of Civilizations?

This week we focused on cultural and religious fault lines and the ways in which they link development issues to wider geopolitical controversies of our day. Looking to "root causes" of conflict is vital in building sustainable and equitable development strategies, especially in fragile states. So, how far are these "root causes" linked to culture and religion? The idea that the world is confronting a “clash of civilizations” (most famously advanced in 1993 by Samuel Huntington) may be the most influential concept in contemporary international relations: an idea reviled and lambasted by some, implicitly or explicitly embraced by others. Even 22 years later, questions about the paradigm Huntington advanced permeate much discussion of current world events. A seminar at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs on April 10-11 on "Clash of Civilizations 2.0" explored these issues, and several participants joined the blogger team in commenting.