Twenty Five years of ‘ The Clash of Civilisations’: From Huntington to Trump and beyond

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Berlin, June 19 2018: The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) celebrated its second anniversary, building off of sixteen years of heritage of the World Public Forum, while at the same time marking the anniversary of Samuel Huntington´s ´Clash of Civilizations´ with a roundtable on the book and the ideas contained therein.

Huntington´s hypothesis was that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Samuel P. Huntington argued that future wars would be fought not between countries, but between cultures. Amongst these conflicts, Islamic extremism would become the biggest threat to world peace.

“Now two decades later this hypothesis from the clash of civilizations has moved from a scholarly argument to become a global security concern”, said the project leader and co-organizer of the conference, Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Haynes of London Metropolitan University. “Civilization and social barbarism are opposites and how we understand each term is linked to our values. The project is different to others and unique as it examines and understands the clash of civilizations in both domestic policy and international relations and how the concept of the clash of civilizations has developed over time and been factored into policy instruments relating migration and security issues including preventing or countering violent extremism.”

The Chairman of the Supervisory Board Vladimir Yakunin opened the Roundtable with a Key Note speech on the importance of keeping optimism to the world and the need for a clear dialogue.

Below, are some snippets from the talks by the various participants.

Prof. Dr. Jocelyne Cesari of the Univ. of Birmingham : “civilization refers to collective identities or we-feelings through which political groups compare themselves to others and express their “superiority” in civilizational terms. After all, one group is always the “barbarian” when compared to another group.”

Prof. Jonathan Fox from Bar-Ilan Univeristy in Israel reminded us that Huntington’s predictions clearly include domestic conflicts as well, which often involve discrimination against minorities .

Prof. Ayhan Kaya of Istanbul Bilgi Univ. in his speech about populism made a case that Islamophobia today operates as a form of cultural racism along with the process of securitizing and stigmatizing migration and migrants in the age of neoliberalism.

Dr. Jiahong Chen, Research Director of the DOC : “Today, we can witness how the ‘I-It’ relationship has manifested in often controversial, if not destructive ways. Humanity is facing a crisis that includes the ‘one-dimensional mind’, a mind that largely ignores the potential for authentic relationships between one another and with the natural world. To become true human beings means to keep their moral and humanistic rationality in existence. It has never been so urgent to engage in peaceful dialogues among civilisations.”

Therefore the clash of civilizations can be seen as a process where cultural groups start to differ away from another before it comes to bigger conflicts.

Prof. Raffaele Marchetti from LUISS University of Rome, highlighted the fact that at the moment we are experiencing especially in Europe the processes of global integration where national and local identity are debated almost on equal levels leading therefore to confusion about priorities which in turn cause further conflict.

Among the speakers was as well Dr. Fabio Petito, who concluded that the weakness of Samuel Huntington´s clash of civilizations was that there was no sufficient solutions and recommendations in the end. And that therefore the DOC is very much needed to create a possible bridge in this process, by bringing different sides and people together to talk and discuss with each other. DOC believes that dialogue is an effective starting point to prevent clashes.

The results of the roundtable are going to be published in 2019 on the DOC research Institute website.

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