Conflicts over Sacred Ground

Ron E. Hassner

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Conflicts over Sacred Ground

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Religion
  • Religious Studies
  • Comparative Religion
  • Religious Issues and Debates


Show Summary Details


This chapter argues that contested sacred sites pose indivisibility challenges which can drive even natural religious allies into violent conflict, and also outlines the multiple roots of conflicts over sacred sites based on the type of objective at stake: legitimacy, security, or profit. It then turns to investigate several aspects that characterize these disputes, regardless of cause. Sacred sites cannot be shared to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The characteristics of disputes over sacred places include cohesion, boundaries, and value. Leaders have pursued three primary strategies in order to avoid bloodshed: partition, scheduling, and exclusion. These approaches develop tensions that threaten to burst as soon as one of the claimants perceives a change in the balance of power. Religious leaders can introduce flexibility into the rules governing holy places and add a measure of harmony to contests over holy sites.

Keywords: sacred sites; violent conflict; legitimacy; security; profit; cohesion; boundaries; value; religious leaders

Article.  3291 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Comparative Religion ; Religious Issues and Debates

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.