As the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC RI) marks its second anniversary this July, building off of 16 years of heritage as the World Public Forum, we also mark the anniversary of one of the most influential and controversial publications of the late 20th century: Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’. The aim of this roundtable is to examine and account for extant understandings of the ‘clash of civilisations’ concept that have developed over the last two decades, and to continue our discussion on the urgency of ‘dialogue of civilizations’.
To begin exploring the development of such a theory, the discussion will first analyse the impact that ‘clash of civilizations’ concept has had on the political sphere over the years. The analysis commences with publication of Huntington’s treatise on the topic in the early/mid 1990s and culminates in 2018 with the current Trump administration in the US and various right-wing populist governments in Europe, including those of Hungary and Poland.
The discussion is informed by a series of events over the last two decades: (1) the terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001, which made the ‘clash of civilisations’ between ‘the West’ and the ‘Muslim world’ a ‘fact’ for many scholars and policy makers (2) the United Nations’ response to 9/11: the Alliance of Civilisations, created in 2005 (3) the 2016 US presidential victory of Donald Trump and its aftermath, which highlighted Trump’s understanding of international relations through the lens of ‘clash of civilisations’, and (4) the spread of the ‘clash of civilisations’ concept to Europe, where right-wing populists recently achieved varying degrees of electoral success, including in Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and Italy. They achieved this in part by electorally exploiting the fear of a ‘Muslim invasion’, stimulated by the 2015 migration crisis and continuing concerns about ‘Islamic terrorism’. In sum, the last two decades have seen the concept of the ‘clash of civilisations’ shift from a scholarly argument to a global security concern.
Moving away from identifying these problems with an approach based on differences rather than commonalities, the longer-term outcome of the discussion aims at contributing to a new theoretical paradigm for international relations and domestic policy making. It is clear that Huntington’s realist approach, (as well as the liberal idealist notions proposed by Francis Fukuyama in his ‘End of History’ discourse), have fallen short in explanatory value and as a method to create an inclusive and sustainable world order. Thus, it is time for a new theory – one based on authentic dialogue, where parties listen as well as speak. Beyond this roundtable, DOC RI will continue to lead the discourse and debate on ‘dialogue of civilisations’ and what this concept can mean for all facets of humanity.
Jeffrey Haynes, London Metropolitan University
Luca Ozzano, University of Turin
Jocelyne Cesari, University of Birmingham
Petr Kratochvil, Institute of International Relations
Raffaele Marchetti, Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali ‘Guido Carli’ (LUISS)
Karsten Lehmann, Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule
Jonathan Fox, Bar-Ilan University
Luca Mavelli, University of Kent
Scott Thomas, University of Bath
Barbara Pasamonik, M. Grzegorzewska University
Erik Ringmar, Lund University
Fabio Petito, University of Sussex
Jiahong Chen, Research Director, DOC RI
Attendance prior to registration only.