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The Clash of Civilizations Thesis and Religious Responses

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The article describes key aspects of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. It acknowledges the way in which that thesis has picked up on some key changes in relation to the role of religion in public life and, especially, in international relations. But it also critiques the thesis for its “essentializing” and “bloc” approach to cultures and societies, arguing that such an approach does not take sufficient account of the differences and sometimes fault-lines and conflicts within societies and cultural groups. For what might characterise appropriate religiously informed responses to Huntington’s thesis, the article proposes an approach based on four “keynotes” of “modesty”, “integrity”, “realism” and “distinctiveness”.

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