We are excited to release our highly timely report, “Engaging Sectarian De- Escalation: Proceedings of the Symposium on Islam and Sectarian De-Escalation.” This report highlights the key themes and takeaways from the Annual Symposium on Sectarian De-Escalation and Dialogue that was held at the Harvard Kennedy School on April 14 and 15 of 2018. The symposium was organized by the Iran Project, which has since expanded to become the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
As part of a larger project on sectarian de-escalation, the symposium gathered key imams, scholars, policymakers and diplomats to cast doubt on simplified sectarian narratives, and to explore interlinked factors and different pathways in the pursuit of reducing the grounds of conflict. By tracing the different political, theological and socio-cultural roots of different narratives, the speakers provided nuance to our conception of sectarianism. This report highlights the key themes that emerged from the symposium, namely the importance of geopolitical literacy; the importance of religious and historical literacy and precedents for peace and diversity; and, recalling vehicles of culture and literature.
This report is a critical contribution to future research and policy making. Through our research domain, Sectarianism and Sectarian De-escalation, we will continue to expand on this knowledge and to explore pathways for durable peace-building and conflict resolution.