Director Karen Barkey on “Making Sense of Hagia Sophia’s Conversion” with Reset DOC

Hagia Sophia, which means “divine wisdom” in Greek, has been subjected to many worldly yearnings of power and symbolism. There is no doubt that altering the status of the great church has always meant domination through control of its symbolism. President Erdogan frequently uses the Ottoman conquest and the right of the sword as part of his symbolic political vocabulary. However, there is a world of difference between the Ottoman conquest and transformation of the Church and Erdogan’s reversal of Ataturk’s decision.

Text editing and video production: Karen Barkey, Rachel Park
Video editing: Marco Lucidi

You can also find the video on the Reset DOC website here.

Director Karen Barkey on “A Permanent American Spring” in ResetDoc

Karen Barkey, current Director of the Shared Sacred Sites project, wrote a piece on “The Road Ahead for US Democracy” for ResetDoc in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the wave of protests against racism and police violence across the country.

The demonstrations, the return of the people of all racial, ethnic, gender, age and socio-economic categories to the public square is encouraging. We are experiencing a renewed and exhilarating demand for change….

This new coalition of the street cannot be, must not be, a passing, fleeting moment in our American Spring. It must be permanent.”

Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP in the Los Angeles Times (

Workshop: Toleration in Comparative Perspective: Concepts, Practices and Documents (April 3-4, 2020)(POSTPONED)

The Center for Democracy, Religion and Toleration (CDTR), The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) at the University of California Berkeley and ResetDOC, Dialogue of Civilizations have undertaken a new project on toleration from different traditions around the world.

This workshop will bring together scholars from across the world to discuss their work on the long, global history of toleration. In addition to five thematic panels, the workshop will host a keynote lecture by Professor Denis Lacorne (Senior Research Fellow at the Centre d’Etudes et des Researches Internationales, Sciences Po). You can find the schedule for the workshop and information on the participants on these pages.

Following the comparative workshop on April 3rd and 4th 2020, we plan to prepare a volume with selected materials on toleration, brief analytic essays that situate the writings within their particular geographic and temporal sites and relate them comparatively to ideas and practices of toleration in other parts of the world. This volume promises to provide an important selection of materials on toleration across time and space with a comparative frame that will reveal the highly diverse origins of the concept of toleration. We hope to historicize the concept of toleration, thereby also putting into question the often-uncritical assumption that the articulation of the ideal is primarily an intellectual achievement of a strand of thought in Europe or, more generally, the West. 

Exhibition and Workshop: “Shared Sacred Sites” From the Mediterranean to the United States. (March 29, 2018)

Click here to read a thoughtful and rich review of Shared Sacred Sites Exhibition by Gordon Haber at The Forward.


International Exhibition Shared Sacred Sites is coming to New York City on March 27-June 30th, 2018, hosted by The New York Public Library, The Graduate Center, CUNY, and The Morgan Library and Museum.


Click the link below to view the official informational brochure of  Shared Sacred Sites exhibition. Scroll down to read the program of the Exhibition and the Public Events.

Official Brochure – Shared Sacred Sites, New York


Shared Sacred Sites- A Program

For centuries Christians, Jews and Muslims as members of the Abrahamic religions have visited and prayed at sanctuaries belonging to each other. This presence of “shared” sacred sites is a well–established phenomenon in the Mediterranean, revealing the permeability of the frontiers between religious communities. Despite theological differences, the three religions share a number of elements in terms of beliefs, rites, holy figures and places. These features have formed a fertile ground for the sharing of sacred sites across the Mediterranean and Middle East, although they have also historically led to antagonism between different religions and partition of some of these places. Yet today, many shrines and sanctuaries have survived across the Mediterranean world and welcome the faithful of different religions with hospitality and respect.

Shared Sacred Sites puts forward a powerful story of tolerance and cross-faith, cross-cultural co-existence. The project combines cultural events, performances, contemporary art, ethnographic material and digital interactive media to tell the story of a long, Mediterranean and Middle East tradition against current discourses of conflict, exclusion and fundamentalism: that of sharing of saints, sacred places, religious practices, and experiences between Muslims, Christians and Jews. We focus on the Mediterranean and Middle East not only because it is the historical birthplace of the three Abrahamic religions, but also because it is the space where the three religions came to negotiate with each other, in tension and in cooperation.

Exhibition: March 27-June 30th, 2018

Shared Sacred Sites is organized as a contemporary “pilgrimage” in Manhattan through three venues: The New York Public Library, the Morgan Library and Museum, and the James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center.

At the New York Public Library, the exhibition opens with the history of the Holy Land, a look at Jerusalem as both holy city and center of pilgrimage for three faiths. An examination of Abraham’s vision of hospitality sets the stage for extending forbearance to the stranger and the unfamiliar. This mythical episode—present both in the Bible and the Qur’an—was also key to the New Testament command, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  The exhibition then shifts to Moses, who engendered a common veneration at Mount Sinai in Egypt, followed by the Saint Catherine monastery, which was a stop for many Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca since the premodern area. Many of them visited the top of the mountain where there is still a mosque and a church. Mary has also been pivotal to the narratives that bind Christianity and Islam, as if encouraging the bridge between these religions through her shared sanctity. To complete a panoptic vision of shared holy figures, other characters are depicted and presented such as Elijah/al-Khidr at Mount Carmel, the Seven Sleepers, John the Baptist, and Saint Georges.

The Morgan Library and Museum brings an altogether different aspect of the story of coexistence and collaboration between diverse cultures in a display of the celebrated Morgan Picture Bible produced in Paris around 1250, which offers the most exquisite visualizations of the events of the Old Testament. With the passing of time and distance, the manuscript acquired inscriptions in Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian. It is a beautiful display of the contact of civilizations and a deep respect for shared heritage.

The Graduate Center at the City University of New York gathers contemporary examples compiled by an international team with various explorations and experiences in sanctuaries, presenting a medley of artifacts, contemporary art, multimedia, and photographs. Visitors of the exhibition will discover contemporary situations in the places such as Bethlehem, Djerba, Ephesus, Haifa, Hebron, Istanbul, and more.




These exhibitions will be accompanied by a series of events that will feature music, conversations and workshops, highlighting the essence of these shared cultural experiences. The exhibition will open at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York on the 27th of March, with welcoming addresses and a presentation by Yinon Muallem, Meeting of the Hearts, a unique blend of discussion, sound and composition bridging across different religions and cultures. This performance was inspired by the mutual influences between Sufi mystic poetry and medieval traditions of Spanish Jewry.

We will continue with an opening at the New York Public Library on the 28th of March, with a conversation between three Faith Leaders from each of the Abrahamic Religions. Featuring Cheik Khaled Bentounès, Rabbi Rolando Matalon and Minister and Theologian Cláudio Carvalhaes, we will discuss the issues of mutual tolerance, universal understandings of hospitality that emanate from the tradition of Abraham, as well as how each religious tradition has within itself the capacity to extend to the other and promote “living together in peace.” Each of these religious leaders has thought, reached out and acted to counter the divisions experienced in the world. They will discuss their participation and their view of the tradition of sharing sacred sites between the three Abrahamic faiths. We will also try to breach the question of the relationship between humanitarianism and the three established religions. Why has religion not been a full advocate of humanitarianism? What can enlightened faith leaders do to change this? This event will be moderated by Anisa Mehdi, acclaimed journalist and filmmaker and director of the Abraham’s Path Initiative.  The discussion will be followed by a viewing of the NYPL part of the exhibit.

A day-long workshop at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York on the 29th of March will continue the conversations about pluralism and coexistence. Here, we will discuss the cases of coexistence, tolerance and intolerance in the Middle East through the lens of shared music and shared sites, as well as shift the focus to discuss the vagaries of pluralism in contemporary America. With a series of famed historians and social scientists of the United States, we will explore whether our long-coveted pluralism is now fuel for divisions.

See the workshop program below.


Previously Shared Sacred Sites traveled to Istanbul, Turkey (2017), Thessaloniki, Greece (2017), Tunis, Tunisia (2016), and Marseilles, France.

The Road Traveled: 9th Annual International Islamophobia Conference (April 27-29, 2018)

Livestream videos available now on Official Facebook group.

See Facebook group for future updates.

Retrived from:

Friday, Apr 27, 2018 – Sunday, Apr 29, 2018 All Day Event

Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, and 370 Dwinelle Hall | UC Berkeley
Location is ADA accessible

he UC Berkeley Center for Race and Gender Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP);  Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, University of Leeds, UK; Islamophobia Studies Journal & Re-Orient Journal;  Islamophobia Studies Center, Center for Islamic Studies at GTU; and Zaytuna College



April 27th: Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall
April 28th – 29th: 370 Dwinelle Hall
UC Berkeley


Conference: “Religion and Humanitarianism in the New Age of Nationalism” (March 16-17, 2018)

A Conference and Discussion on the topic of “Religion and Humanitarianism in the New Age of Nationalism” is happening today and tomorrow (3/16-17, 2018) at UC Berkeley Matrix (820 Barrows Hall).


Scroll down to see the Conference Program and the Poster.

The Program of the event:

Friday, March 16
08:45am-09:30am Registration & Refreshments at Matrix
09:30am-10:45am John Shattuck Keynote
10:45am-11am Break

11am-1pm Panel 1: “Religion and Xenophobic Nationalism”

What has been the role of religion— churches, institutions of civic society,
intellectuals—in the creation and political successes of forms of exclusivist nationalist
rejection of moral universalism?  Two images might be worth unpacking:  a crucifix
behind a razor wire fence guarding the Hungarian border and devout Poles saying their
rosaries in defense of the nation against migrants.
Opening comments: Adam Chmielewski, András Páp, John Connelly

1pm-2pm Lunch

2pm-4pm Panel 2: “Religious Authorities, Laity & Humanitarianism”
What is the relationship between established ecclesiastical authority and
humanitarianism? What are the internal debates and fracture
lines within particular religious communities and especially among the laity on issues like
immigration and gender/sexual equality that figure so prominently in thinking about
moral universalism.
Opening Comments: Jodok Troy, Molly Worthen, Olivia Wilkinson

4pm-5:30pm Wine Reception at Matrix

18:00-21:30 Dinner by Invitation.

Saturday, March 17
09:30am-10am Registration & Refreshments

10am-12pm Panel 3 “What Is To Be Done: The Role of International Business, NGO's,
and States”

What roles can or should important non-religious actors like international business,
NGOs, and States play in mitigating the anti-humanitarian impulses of the new religious
nationalists and nationalisms.
Opening comments: Bennett Freeman, Tehila Sasson, Sam Moyn

12pm-1pm Lunch

1pm-3pm Panel 4: “What Is To Be Done: Religious Institutions & Humanitarianism”
What roles can or should various religion-based institutions play in mitigating the anti-
humanitarian impulses of the new religious nationalists and nationalisms?
Opening Comments: Rev Prof Jane Shaw, George Rupp

3pm-4pm Wrap-Up Discussion
Opening comment: John Shattuck


“THREATENED SCHOLARS” A Panel on Responses to Attacks on Academic Freedom Around the World. (February 27, 2018)

We welcome you to our Panel where we will discuss the future of academic freedom in the world today.

Tuesday, February 27, 12pm

820 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley Campus

Click here for the map view.

“Scholars working around the world often come under threat of persecution or harassment, whether from oppressive governments or other sources. They may also be displaced by forces beyond their control, such as war or natural disasters. This panel discussion will focus on how universities and other institutions can support scholars who are persecuted or harassed because of their ideas and actions, or who are forced to leave their homes for other reasons.”

This Panel is a part of Social Science Matrix’s new Solidarity Series. To read more about the Series please click here.

This event is co-sponsored by UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix and Center for Democracy, Toleration and Religion.


Workshop: “Shared Sacred Sites” From the Mediterranean to the United States: Perspectives on Pluralism (March 29, 2017)

We are excited to introduce our workshop “Shared Sacred Sites” From the Mediterranean to the United States: Perspectives on Pluralism, which will take place in New York City on March 29th, at Graduate Center, CUNY.

This workshop is a part of the international Shared Sacred Sites exhibition that will open on March 27th, at New York Public Library, CUNY Graduate Center, and Morgan Library and Museum. The exhibition will remain open until June 30th.

Please see our workshop program for more details.

Click here to download the Program.


Our workshop is supported by the grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program, and The Achelis and Bodman Foundation.

“Knowledge and Diversity” 10th Year Anniversary Celebration, GTU (December 7, 2017)


We are delighted to invite the GTU community and other friends of the Center for Islamic Studies to join CIS faculty, students, alumni, and invited guests at a very special event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

We extend our gratitude to all who have supported our work over the years, and look forward to our continued work together. Come celebrate with us on Thursday, December 7, in the GTU Library.


Place: Graduate Theological Union Library, 2400 Ridge Rd. , Berkeley, CA , 94709

Time: 4:30-8:30pm

Event Schedule:

4:30-5:30 Tour the Knowledge and Diversity exhibition and meet/greet students, faculty, and visiting scholars in Islamic Studies

5:45-7:15 Formal presentations, featuring remarks from invited guests, as well as GTU President Riess Potterveld, Dean Uriah Kim, CIS Director Munir Jiwa, and current students in Islamic studies at the GTU

7:15-8:30 Reception with vegetarian appetizers, desserts, and beverages.

Mark your calendars now and plan to join us!

“Total Life is What We Need: Self-Determination and Black Arts Collectives,” Talk by Dr. Elizabeth Alexander (December 8, 2017)

On December 8th, please join us in the talk by Dr. Elizabeth Alexander of Columbia University titled “Total Life is What We Need: Self-determination and Black Arts Collectives” from 12-1:30 PM at Alumni House at UC Berkeley.

This talk is a part of a new colloquium series launched by the Haas Institute for Fair and Inclusive Society called “Research to Impact.”

You can read Dr. Alexander’s biography and poems at the website of Poetry Foundation.

Read more about the series here.