Karen Barkey is currently a Professor of Sociology and History at Columbia University. She is the author of Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization, winner of the Social Science History Award in 1995 and co-editor of After Empire: Multiethnic Societies and Nation-Building: The Soviet Union, and the Russian, Habsburg and Ottoman Empires with Mark von Hagen. She has been awarded fellowships from the United States Institute of Peace, Social Science Research Council - MacArthur and National Humanities Center.
These essays map the choreographies of shared sacred spaces within the framework of state-society relations, juxtaposing a site's political and religious features and exploring whether sharing or contestation is primarily religious or politically motivated. Although religion and politics are intertwined phenomena, the contributors to this volume understand the category of "religion" and the "political" as devices meant to distinguish between the theological and confessional aspects of religion and the political goals of groups. Their comparative approach better represents the transition in some cases of sites into places of hatred and violence, while in other instances they remain noncontroversial. The essays clearly delineate the religious and political factors that contribute to the context and causality of conflict at these sites and draw on history and anthropology to shed light on the often rapid switch from relative tolerance to distress to peace and calm.