Recognizing Religion(s)

The Cultural Dynamics of Religious Encounters and Interactions in Historical Perspective

Project Description

This is a joint initiative between NYU Abu Dhabi, Australian Catholic University, and ‘The European Qur’an. Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion 1150-1850 (EuQu)’ (University of Copenhagen).

This project aims to study and discuss the impact that encounters, interaction, and mutual recognition of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as non-Abrahamic religions, had on their historical development and their understanding of themselves and others. Particularly, we are interested in concepts that Jews, Christians, and Muslims entertained about themselves and about any other cultural or religious group and how these concepts changed over time.

(left) Hagia Sophia, officially the Hagia Sophia Holy Grand Mosque, and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul, designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. (right) The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, officially known by its ecclesiastical name, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and located in the Spanish region of Andalusia.

In this context, ‘recognition’ involves cultural change by the exchange. It does not merely describe the act of attentively observing and distinguishing another as different from or similar to one’s own group. It also involves a recursive adaptation of self-definition and identity, facilitated by real and imaginary encounters, both peaceful and belligerent.

The interest is in how recognition functions in real world encounters between cultural groups and how it changes over time; how recognition employs media that communicate knowledge within and across cultural and geographical boundaries; how it uses true and false information about the other; and how it is affected by philosophical, theological, and ethical ideas openly or implicitly shared across cultural and geographical borders.

Workshops Academic Year 2020-2021

April 19, 2021

“False gods, human weaknesses: Christian and Muslim analyses”
Taneli Kukkonen (NYUAD) and Siiri Toiviainen Rø (University of Helsinki)
Moderator: Chris Ocker (ACU)

March 23, 2021

“Exchanges Across Religious Lines: Material Interests and Representations”
Francesca Trivellato (IAS) and Leor Halevi (Vanderbilt University)
Moderator: Ethan Shagan (UC, Berkeley) 

February 22, 2021

“Apostates and Impostors in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean”
Tamar Herzig (Tel Aviv University) and Hussein Fancy (University of Michigan)
Moderator: Charles Stang (Harvard) 

November 30, 2020

“Forms of Religious Recognition in Early Modern Iberia and the Ottoman Empire”
Tijana Krstić (CEU, Vienna) and Mercedes García-Arenal (CSIC, Madrid)
Moderator: Jan Loop (University of Copenhagen) 

October 5, 2020

"Situating World Religions in Modern Islam"
Zvi Ben-Dor Benite (NYU) and Esmat Elhalaby (UC Davis)
Moderator: Taneli Kukkonen (NYUAD) 

Project Details


Project Director

Taneli Kukkonen
Professor of Philosophy, NYUAD

Project Director

Reindert Falkenburg
Special Academic Advisor; Visiting Professor of Early Modern Art and Culture, NYUAD

Project Director

Jan Loop
Professor of Early Modern History and Religious Cultures, University of Copenhagen

Project Director

Christopher Ocker
Director, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Australian Catholic University

Project Member

Tamar Herzig
Professor of History, Tel Aviv University

Project Member

Sina Rauschenbach
Chair of Religious Studies and Jewish Thought, Universität Potsdam

Project Member

Marina Rustow
Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East; Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History; Director of the Program in Near Eastern Studies; Director of the Geniza Lab, Princeton University

Project Member

Ethan Shagan
Professor of History; Zaffaroni Family Chair in Education, University of California, Berkeley

Project Member

Charles Stang
Professor of Early Christian Thought and Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University

Project Member

Martial Staub
Professor of Medieval History, The University of Sheffield