Specialized Themes

Shared Spaces, Conflicting Memories? Interreligious lieux de mémoire
Session code
Date Time
Thursday, August 25th / 14.00-17.30
Ferenc Tóth
Collegium Minus, Sala Senatu

Contemporary discourse colonizes the past, projecting onto it our own worries, dreams, and obsessions. The European landscape is dotted with interconfessional lieux de mémoire, places in which memories of religious conflict or convergence live on, often with different meanings for diverse individuals and groups. Such lieux de mémoire include physical places, such as a sanctuary in Spain to an Iberian fertility deity transformed into a temple of Venus, a church, a mosque and back into a church (or into a museum, a school, a bar). Or Szigetvár, in central Hungary, where Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent died, and where a sanctuary subsequently became a place of pilgrimage for Ottomans until it was razed by Hungarian authorities after their conquest of the city, and is now the object of an archeological study. Or tombs of holy men in the Maghreb or Lebanon, venerated by Muslims, Jews and Christians. Other examples are the religious monuments of Isfahan of the Safavid period, when this city was a cosmopolitan capital, home to Muslims, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. As well as places visible today as places of worship or memorials, there are sites whose importance has been largely forgotten or in some cases deliberately effaced: the former Jewish cemetery of Oxford is now botanical garden (its former history marked by a discreet plaque); the sumptuous 19th-century neo-Moorish synagogue in Leipzig was destroyed on Kristallnacht. Some historical places, like the ancient house and catholic chapel of the Prince Francis Rákóczi II in Rodosto (Tekirdag in Turkey), are considered now as national lieu de mémoire. This specialized theme will address the issue of interreligious lieux de mémoire by evoking a selected number of sites, exploring the entangled histories of those who have occupied these sites, and the charged meanings of those sites today.