Making Pluralism Possible: The Promise and Challenge of Religious Peacebuilding in South Asia

Speakers’ Forum on Religion and Development in Bangladesh

October 3, 2015
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT

Since 2012, communal violence in Bangladesh has spiked to levels not seen in over 30 years. The unrest threatens to derail the nation’s hard-won economic and human development progress. Much of the recent violence has occurred around elections, casting a harsh light on the country’s substantial democratic challenges. Though political tensions have often provided triggers for violence, the roots of conflict in Bangladesh run much deeper and in large part center on the place of religion in society and its role in the construction of national identities. The third Speakers’ Forum on Religion and Development in Bangladesh focused on the religious dimensions of conflict and examined the work of religious peacebuilders, incorporating perspectives and experiences from countries in the region that have faced similar challenges related to communal violence and religious intolerance. 

The forum, held at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, involves a series of daylong events organized around critical social issues and development challenges, coupled with continuing dialogue and policy research. Topics also highlight areas where religious leaders or institutions play significant roles or where a fuller understanding of religious dimensions can enrich development work and policy. The forums offer a non-politicized space for constructive dialogue on the real and potential contributions of faith-inspired actors to critical development topics, with a view towards deepening the national conversation on religion more broadly. They draw on experience and expertise of scholars and development practitioners from local, regional, and international contexts, thus providing points of comparison and opportunities for mutual learning. They aim to cultivate a global network of dialogue and collaboration on shared challenges. Easing tensions around religious roles in public affairs and exploring ways forward on divisive and deadlocked social issues are core objectives.

This event was cosponsored by the World Faiths Development Dialogue, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, and BRAC University’s Department of Economics and Social Sciences. 

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