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Civilisation, dialogue, security: the challenge of post-secularism and the limits of civilisational dialogue

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2013

Abstract

The purposes of this article are twofold: (1) to consider the extent to which Dialogue of Civilisations (DoC) initiatives, as alternative visions of post-secular world order, are likely to address insecurities that they identify; and (2) to point to other insecurities that are likely to remain unidentified and unaddressed in the process. In their present conception, DoC initiatives risk falling short of addressing the very insecurities they prioritise (the stability of inter-state order) let alone attending to those experienced by non-state referents, which they overlook. The article advances three points in three steps. First, I point to how projects of civilisational dialogue have bracketed civilisation, thereby leaving intact the Huntingtonian notion of civilisations as religiously unified autochthonous entities. Second, I argue that while contributing to opening up space for communication, DoC initiatives have nevertheless failed to employ a dialogical approach to dialogue between civilisations. Third, I tease out the notion of security underpinning DoC initiatives and argue that the proponents DoC, in their haste to avert a clash, have defined security narrowly as the absence of war between states belonging to different civilisations. Theirs is also a shallow notion of security insofar as it fails to capture the derivative character of security and insecurity.

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Copyright © British International Studies Association 2012

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References

1 Berger, Peter L. (ed.), The Desecularisation of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Washington, DC: Ethics and Policy Center, 1999)Google Scholar; Berger, Peter L., ‘Reflections on the Sociology of Religion Today’, Sociology of Religion, 62:4 (2001), pp. 443–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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5 Huntington's article came out in the US policy magazine Foreign Affairs in 1993. Three years later he published the book length version. While the book's style was more nuanced than the article regarding the inevitability of a clash, the disappearance of the question mark in the title suggested that the author was no less confident of his conclusions. See, Huntington, Samuel P., ‘Clash of Civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, 72:3 (1993) pp. 2249CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996)Google Scholar.

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11 McLennan, Gregor, ‘Towards Postsecular Sociology?’, Sociology, 41:5 (2007), p. 859CrossRefGoogle Scholar. As Petito and Hatzopoulos have argued, such debates would allow inquiry into prevalent assumptions about the proper relationship between the sacred and the profane that has made Huntington's thesis possible. Be that as it may, my aim here is to discuss the limitations of DoC as one response to the challenge of post-secularism, but not to interrogate the conditions of possibility of that challenge. See, (Fabio Petito and Pavlos Hatzopoulos, ‘The Return from Exile: An Introduction’ in Petito and Hatzopoulos (eds), Religion in International Relations, pp. 1–20.

12 My aim here is not to unpack ‘security’. Critical security studies offer multiple ways for approaching security critically. In what follows, I will be building upon the insights of critical security studies to problematise the notion of security DoC projects have built upon. On critical security studies see, for example, Booth, Ken, ‘Security and Emancipation’, Review of International Studies, 17:4 (1991), pp. 313–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Buzan, Barry, People, states, and fear: an agenda for international security studies in the post-cold war era (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991)Google Scholar; Lipschutz, Ronnie D. (ed.), On Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995)Google Scholar; Krause, Keith and Williams, Michael C. (eds), Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)Google Scholar; Buzan, Barry, Wæver, Ole and de Wilde, Jaap, Security: a new framework for analysis (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Pub., 1998)Google Scholar; Booth, Ken, Theory of World Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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15 Bhargava, ‘States, Religious Diversity, and the Crisis of Secularism’.

16 See, for example, Petito, Fabio and Hatzopoulos, Pavlos (eds), Religion in International Relations: The Return from Exile (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)Google Scholar; Kratochwil, Friedrich V., ‘Religion and (inter-) national politics: On the heuristics of identities, structures, and agents’, Alternatives, 30:2 (2005), pp. 113–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Byrnes, Timothy A. and Katzenstein, Peter J. (eds), Religion in an expanding Europe (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barbato, ‘Conceptions of the Self for Post-secular Emancipation’, pp. 547–64. But see Pasha in this Special Issue.

17 Kubálková, Vendulka, ‘Towards an international political theology’, Millennium-Journal of International Studies, 29:3 (2000), pp. 675704CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Petito and Hatzopoulos (ed.), Religion in International Relations; Kratochwil, Friedrich, ‘Religion and (inter-)national politics: On the heuristics of identities, structures, and agents’, Alternatives, 30:2 (2005), pp. 113–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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20 On the reception Huntington received in Estonia, see, Kuus, Merje, ‘European Integration in Identity Narratives in Estonia: A Quest for Security’, Journal of Peace Research, 39:1 (2002), pp. 91108CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the frequent invocation of Huntingtonian assumptions and arguments during the Bosnian conflict, see, Hansen, Lene, ‘Past as Preface: Civilizational Politics and the “Third” Balkan War’, Journal of Peace Research, 37:3 (2000), pp. 345–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 Further information on this initiative is available at: {http://www.un.org/Dialogue/} accessed 19 September 2011.

22 Quoted in: Esposito, John L. and Voll, John O., ‘Islam and the West: Muslim Voices of Dialogue’, in Hatzopoulos, Pavlos and Petito, Fabio (eds), Religion in International Relations: The Return from Exile (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 250Google Scholar.

23 The former president's dialogue-themed addresses have since then been removed from the website of the Iranian representation to the UN.

24 For the ‘Alliance of Civilizations’ initiative, see {http://www.unaoc.org/} accessed 17 January 2012.

25 Mestres, Laia and Soler i Lecha, Eduard, ‘Spain and Turkey: A Long-Lasting Alliance in a Turbulent Context?’, Insight Turkey, 8:2 (2006), pp. 117–26Google Scholar.

26 One factor behind PM Erdoğan's wholehearted embrace of DoC was his chief foreign policy advisor Ahmet Davutoğlu (present minister of foreign affairs) who has written extensively on civilisations in a previous life as a professor of International Relations. See, for example, Davutoğlu, Ahmet, Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World (Mahir Publications, 1994)Google Scholar; Ahmet Davutoğlu, ‘Medeniyetlerin Ben-idraki [Self-cognition of Civilizations]’, Divan Ilmi Arastırmalar Dergisi, 1 (1997), pp. 1–53.

28 As Petito notes, President Havel did not use DoC formulation. He is nevertheless counted among the proponents of DoC by virtue of the content of his message. See, Petito, Fabio, ‘The Global Political Discourse of Dialogue among Civilizations: Mohammad Khatami and Václav Havel’, Global Change, Peace & Security, 19:2 (2007), pp. 1026CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

29 {www.unesco.org/dialogue/index/html} accessed 25 July 2012.

30 {http://www.wpfdc.org/} accessed 17 January 2012.

31 {http://dialoguefoundation.org/} accessed 17 January 2012.

32 {www.reset.org} accessed 17 January 2012.

33 Lynch, ‘The Dialogue of Civilisations and International Public Spheres’, pp. 337–50; Dallmayr, Dialogue Among Civilizations; Esposito and Voll, ‘Islam and the West’; Petito, ‘The Global Political Discourse of Dialogue among Civilizations’; Petito, ‘Dialogue of Civilizations As An Alternative Model for World Order’.

34 Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus, ‘“Civilization” on Trial’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 28:1 (1999), p. 142CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 Alker, Hayward R., ‘If Not Huntington's “Civilizations” Then Whose?’, Review (Fernand Braudel Center), XVIII:4 (1995), pp. 533–62Google Scholar.

36 Jackson, ‘“Civilization” on Trial’, p. 142.

37 Alker, ‘If Not Huntington's “Civilizations”, Then Whose?’, p. 534.

38 Huntington quoted in John M. Hobson, ‘The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations in Dialogical-Historical Context’, in Pinar Bilgin and Paul D Williams (eds), Global Security, in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) {www.eolss.net}.

39 Hobson, John M., ‘Deconstructing the Eurocentric Clash of Civilizations: De-Westernizing the West by Acknowledging the Dialogue of Civilizations’, in Hall, Martin and Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (eds), Civilizational Identity: The Production and Reproduction of 'Civilizations' in International Relations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 153Google Scholar.

40 In contrast to such monological readings of the history of civilisations is Hobson's dialectical reading that reveals centuries of co-constitution (see the next section for further discussion).

41 Hobson, John M., The Eurocentric conception of world politics: Western international theory, 1760–2010 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). esp. chap. 11CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

42 Quoted in Hevdelien, ‘Post-secular Consensus?’, p. 113. On Pope Benedict XVI's notion of civilisation and practices of dialogue, see Mavelli, Luca, Europe's Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012), pp. 115–23Google Scholar.

43 Khatami as quoted in Esposito and Voll, ‘Islam and the West’, p. 254.

44 ‘Erdoğan, ‘Batının Ahlaksızlıklarını Aldık’ [Erdoğan: “We Got the West's Immoralities”]’, Milliyet, 24 January 2008.

45 This is a process Ahmet Davutoğlu depicts as ben-idraki (self-cognition). See the following section for a discussion on how this notion of DoC is not in tune with the ethics or epistemology of dialogical approaches in the Bakhtinian sense.

46 Quoted in Esposito and Voll, ‘Islam and the West’, p. 254.

47 Hobson, ‘The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations in Dialogical-Historical Context’.

48 On two traditions of secularism, namely Judeo-Christian secularism and laicism, see Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman, The politics of secularism in international relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008)Google Scholar.

49 Quoted in Petito, ‘The Global Political Discourse of Dialogue among Civilizations’, p. 121.

50 Sen, Amartya Kumar, Identity and violence: the illusion of destiny (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006), p. 15Google Scholar. Also see his: Sen, Amartya Kumar, The argumentative Indian: writings on Indian history, culture, and identity (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)Google Scholar.

51 Lynch, ‘The Dialogue of Civilisations and International Public Spheres’, p. 311.

52 On different kinds of dialogue as applied to IR, see Jorgensen, Knud Erik and Valbjorn, Morten, ‘Four dialogues and the funeral of a beautiful relationship: European studies and new regionalism’, Cooperation and Conflict, 47:1 (2012), pp. 327CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 The deadlock brought about by monological practices of ‘dialogue’ was broken by the Oslo talks in 1993.

54 Guillaume, Xavier, ‘Foreign Policy and the Politics of Alterity: A Dialogical Understanding of International Relations’, Millenium: Journal of International Studies, 31:1 (2000), pp. 126CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On Bakhtin, also see, Neumann, Iver B., Uses of the Other: ‘the East’ in European Identity Formation (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1999)Google Scholar; Neumann, Iver B., ‘International relations as emergent Bakhtinian dialogue’, International Studies Review, 5:1 (2003), pp. 137–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

55 Guillaume, ‘Foreign Policy and the Politics of Alterity, p. 8. On dialogue as ethical practice, also see Mavelli, where the author builds upon Martin Buber, one of the inspirations for Bakhtinian dialogism: Mavelli, Europe's encounter with Islam: the secular and the postsecular, pp. 141–45.

56 Guillaume, ‘Foreign Policy and the Politics of Alterity’, p. 9.

57 Quoted in Petito, ‘The Global Political Discourse of Dialogue among Civilizations’, p. 111. Compare with: Davutoğlu, ‘Medeniyetlerin Ben-idraki [Self-cognition of Civilizations]’.

58 Pasha, Mustapha Kamal, ‘Civilizations, Postorientalism, and Islam’, in Hall, Martin and Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus (eds), Civilizational identity: the production and reproduction of ‘civilizations’ in international relations (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 70Google Scholar.

59 Guillaume, ‘Foreign Policy and the Politics of Alterity’, p. 8.

60 Hobson, John M., The Eastern origins of Western civilization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 23CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

61 Petito, ‘In Defence of Dialogue of Civilizations’, p. 766.

62 Ibid.

63 Alker, ‘If Not Huntington's “Civilizations”, Then Whose?’.

64 Lynch, ‘The Dialogue of Civilisations and International Public Spheres’.

65 Dallmayr, Dialogue Among Civilizations, p. 21.

66 On Cold War in/security hierarchies, see, for example, Tickner, J. Ann, Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Booth, Ken, ‘Security and self: reflections of a fallen realist’, in Krause, Keith and Williams, Michael C. (eds), Critical security studies: concepts and cases (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), pp. 83119Google Scholar.

67 Bilgin, Pinar, Booth, Ken, and Wyn Jones, Richard, ‘Security Studies: The Next Stage?’, Nacao e Defesa, 84 (1998), pp. 137–57Google Scholar.

68 Booth, Ken, Theory of World Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 109Google Scholar.

69 J. Peter Burgess, ‘Security as Ethics’, PRIO policy brief (2008); Burgess, J. Peter, The Ethical Subject of Security: Geopolitical Reason and The Threat to Europe (London: Routledge, 2010)Google Scholar.

70 Kratochwil, ‘Religion and (inter-)national politics’, p. 113.

71 Ibid., p. 114.

72 Shirin Ebadi, ‘Who Defines Islam?’, openDemocracy, {www.opendemocracy.net} accessed 1 February 2012.

73 It is not only DoC initiatives but also the project of multiculturalism that suffers from such a problem of silence when it comes to internal struggles within civilisations, thereby effacing difference within. For a feminist perspective, see Ebadi, ‘Who Defines Islam?’.

74 Lynch, ‘The Dialogue of Civilisations and International Public Spheres’, p. 324.

75 Kratochwil, ‘Religion and (inter-)national politics’, p. 132.

76 The court had ruled that the Turkish state was within its rights in banning headscarf from Universities. See {http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4424776.stm} accessed 15 February 2012.

77 ‘Erdoğan Doktrini [Erdoğan Doctrine]’, Milliyet, 16 November 2005.

78 Asad quoted in: Mavelli, Europe's encounter with Islam: the secular and the postsecular, p. 72. While Asad's remark is directed against non-Muslims who pass judgment on Muslim ‘religious’ symbols, his elaboration on religion as a plural space is relevant for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

79 Fred Halliday, ‘The End of the Vatican’, openDemocracy, {www.opendemocracy.net} accessed 1 September 2007.

80 Inayatullah and Blaney, International Relations and the Problem of Difference.

81 McSweeney, Bill, Security, Identity and Interests: A Sociology of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 239CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

82 McSweeney, Security, Identity and Interests, p. 239.

83 Petito, ‘In Defence of Dialogue of Civilizations’, p. 763.

84 Kratochwil, ‘Religion and (inter-)national politics’.

85 Inayatullah and Blaney, International Relations and the Problem of Difference, p. 9. Also see, Pasha, ‘Civilizations, Postorientalism, and Islam’, p. 63.

86 Petito, ‘In Defence of Dialogue of Civilizations’, p. 762.

87 Burke paraphrasing Kristeva. See Burke, Anthony, Beyond security, ethics and violence: war against the other (New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 105Google Scholar.

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