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Monday 15 October: 6:00pm - 7:30pm

St John's College Fisher Building, St John’s Street, CB2 1TP

Why do fundamentalist beliefs and practices function as they do? Why are they so attractive? How should we distinguish between fundamentalism, extremism, radicalism and orthodoxy?

Professor Kim Knott, Lancaster University, Ed Kessler MBE, Woolf Institute, Cambridge, and Tobias Müller, Woolf Institute and POLIS, University of Cambridge, present their reflections on fundamentalisms, particularly in Jewish, Muslim, Christian and non-religious contexts. They draw on case studies and fieldwork in religious communities in the UK and Europe. In addition, the panellists present some conceptual proposals on how best to study and conceptualise fundamentalism in order to make it an analytical and useful category that takes seriously the historical development of the term. The presentations focus on shared characteristics such as the role of patriarchy, the desire to return to a golden age, the significance of sacred texts and truth claims, anti-pluralist attributes, the importance of charismatic leadership and the influence of globalisation. At the same time, the presentations will point out characteristics that are particularly noticeable amongst some religious fundamentalisms but not others, for example sacred land is important to Jewish, Sikh and Hindu fundamentalists but less so for Christian and Buddhist. Finally, the panel will address how fundamentalism relates to mainstream interpretations of the same religion.

Chair: Dr Sara Silvestri, Senior lecturer, City, University of London and Bye Fellow, St Edmund's College, Cambridge

Read Tobias' feature article:

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