The Bodies of Nations: A Comparative Study of Religious Violence in Jerusalem and Ayodhya

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Theorizing the sacred center is an enduring problem in the history and the sociology of religion. The inadequacy of existing approaches is indicated by recent historical events. In the last decade, we have witnessed explosions of violence at several of the world’s most sacred centers. Here we wish to discuss two: Jerusalem’s har ha-bayit/al-haram al-sharif, Temple Mount or Noble Sanctuary, and Ayodhya’s Ramjanmabhumi/ Babri Masjid, the Temple of the Birthplace of Ram or Babri Mosque. For more than a decade we have been studying the politics of the city of Jerusalem, a site sacred and sovereign to both Palestinians and Israelis.

As political sociologist and a historian of religions, we have sought to analyze its politics as a struggle over the organization and meaning of time and space both in the choreography of daily life and at the most sacred sites in the city.

 

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