Certain common misunderstandings related to the characteristics of “civilizational conflicts” prevent the development of practical models to address the challenge they pose. Before getting into the details of the discussion it is important to clarify some of these misunderstandings. The debates surrounding the “Clash of Civilizations,” “Dialogue among Civilizations” and “Alliance of Civilizations” all attribute an agency to ‘civilizations,’ which is a misleading approach. There are no institutional or legal representatives of ‘civilizations’ although some actors may wish to be considered in this light.1 Individuals, groups and institutions claiming to represent civilizations and their ideas can clash and come to agreement physically and verbally but civilizations themselves can hardly be considered units that get into fights or make agreements.
The Alliance of Civilizations: Possibilities of Conflict Resolution at the Civilizational Level
This study examines the possible contributions of the critical perspectives and conceptual frameworks of the Conflict Resolution field to address “civilizational level” conflicts. The possibilities and limitations of dialogue processes at the civilizational level are critically examined. While recognizing the main assumptions and contributions of dialogue processes to deal with cultural/civilizational conflicts, this study puts forward an alternative and more practical vision: that of creating Spheres of Dialogic Interaction (SODI). In the second part of the study, the social and political backgrounds, practical contributions, and limitations of two recent projects the “Dialogue among Civilizations” (DaC) and the “Alliance of Civilizations” (AoC) are analyzed. It is argued that with its action-oriented agenda and the practical environment conducive to flexible, interactive and reflexive interaction, the ongoing AoC project is an important venue for creating SODI.
Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed.
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