Identity—A matter of religion?

16 Olivier Roy

Identity—A matter of religion?

€ 3.00
Sunday 30 May 2010 11:30 am
piazza del Duomo 3

Religion, or, more accurately, religious labels are used in two different ways: to hallmark an identity or to designate a faith. Nowadays, however, these two tend to diverge, as faith communities no longer necessarily identify with a religious creed. So for instance is the Crucifix a cultural symbol, an identity symbol, or the expression or a faith? Can one be a Catholic or a Moslem atheist? Is an immigrant a Moslem because of his/her belief in Islam, or just because he or she comes from a Moslem country? And what do religious labels mean for non-believers? They make sense when religion is inscribed in a given culture, but nowadays the divergence of religion and culture is increasing, which makes faith communities more visible and increasingly self-defensive. So the ‘comeback of religion’ does not signal a revival of traditional cultures, but rather a crisis of contemporary European culture.


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Olivier Roy (1949) is directeur d’études at EHESS (School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris and head researcher at the CNRS, France’s National Scientific Research Center. He has taught at the Paris Institut d’Etudes Politiques and at the University of California a Berkeley. He is currently professor of Political and Social Theories at the European University Institute in Florence, where he is head of the Mediterranean Program. Also, he is a consultant to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1984, and of the UN Office for the coordination of relief efforts in Afghanistan since 1988. Following are some of his books translated into Italian: Global Muslim (Feltrinelli, 2003); L’impero assente (Carocci, 2004); Islam alla sfida della laicità (Marsilio, 2008); La santa ignoranza (Feltrinelli, 2009).

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