The role of religious identity in the modern world


The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) co-hosted a round table on “The Role of Religious Identity in the Modern World” at Tomsk State University on May 22 as a part of the Tomsk interreligious dialogue project.

The event was organised in cooperation with the Philosophy and History Departments of Tomsk State University, and was attended by members of the academic community, religious organisations, government agencies, media and students researching issues of religion and ethnicity.

During the discussion, DOC Chief Researcher Alexey Malashenko stressed the importance of the Tomsk interreligious dialogue project in helping to create a platform for interaction and facilitating an understanding of the position of the “other”.

Alexander Pechurkin, rector of the St. Nicholas Church, discussed the concept of a person “mentally exploring” their own religion. He noted that this can have positive implications for the individual, facilitating the preservation of one’s own identity in an increasingly complex and changing world. However, he added that it could also lead certain individuals to forget the basic humanistic principles of their own denomination.

Savely Wolfson, Associate Professor at the Department of Modern History and International Relations, spoke about the importance of interreligious dialogue, particularly in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, where citizens may have a low level of awareness of other religious traditions.

Oleg Khazanov, an Associate Professor at the Department of the History of the Ancient World, the Middle Ages and the Methodology of History emphasised the role of the university as a space for interreligious dialogue, noting how the university environment serves as an important moderator in the discussion.

Representatives of Tomsk’s Islamic community presented projects that they are currently implementing to harmonise relations between different ethnic and religious groups in the city.

Leaders and representatives of a number of other religious groups were also present and many voiced a desire for new forms of cooperation, such as joint cultural and environmental projects. Several participants noted the positive role of the round-table in Tomsk and suggested the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute expand the initiative to other regions. Overall, the round-table praised the intrinsic value of the dialogue process for deepening the understanding of other worldviews and creating a deeper awareness of one’s own position.

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