Today’s sessions were all really thought provoking and interesting, although I was particularly struck by a lot of what was discussed in Professor Bock’s sessions. We discussed the role of religion in both peace and conflict, of which there are many examples. I appreciated the overview of Clark McCauley’s theories:

Iniquity theory –> conflict is about maintaining honour and guarding that which is considered sacred and important.

Equity theory –> conflict is a result of unequal distribution of resources.

Humiliation theory –> the combination of anger and shame.

All of these theories attempt to address different sources of conflict, in order to best develop strategies for effective peace building. Professor Bock acknowledged that many conflicts are viewed as economic or cultural, but actually for many actors in the conflict, religion does actually play a role. He cautioned against glossing over the point that conflicts might actually be religious, as without accurately diagnosing the flashpoint of conflict, any attempt at peace building will be doomed. I appreciated his introduction of the term “coreligionists,” and his argument that these individuals who represent different religions need to play a more active role in discouraging violence and deconstructing any religious justifications which are being used to promote violence. We looked at the example of Daesh and which religious leaders could help counter the theological arguments made by militants for their actions. I agreed with the arguments that he was making about using individuals from within communities who have the authority and credibility to deflate an argument (such as Daesh using Islam as a justification for violence).

I thought his evaluation of terminology was also really important – by dissecting what tolerance means when contrasted with celebrating diversity. I agreed with his analysis of the term ‘tolerance’ as something which does not have the most positive connotations.