Holy Sites Governance and Religious Conflict

By: Samyukt Kumar

April 20, 2020

Virtual Spring 2020 REWA Student Symposium

Competing religious claims to land and holy sites can have significant implications for people living in these contested areas. Two notable examples of this dynamic are the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Ram Janmabhumi / Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, India. This project seeks to answer the following questions: Using the cases of Temple Mount and Ayodhya, India, how can competing religious claims to holy sites be resolved in a manner that is just and minimizes conflict? More broadly, how can agreements around holy sites be extended to religious claims to land in general?


Richard Davis, “The Rise and Fall of a Sacred Place: Ayodhya over Three Decades,” in Marc Ross, ed., Culture and Belonging in Divided Societies: Contestation and Symbolic Landscapes (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

Rivka Gonen, Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Jersey City: KTAV Publishing House, 2003).

Sarvepalli Gopal, et al. “The Political Abuse of History: Babri Masjid: Rama Janmabhumi Dispute,” Social Scientist 18 (1990): 76–81.

Yuval Jobani and Nahshon Perez, “Governing the Sacred: A Critical Typology of Models of Political Toleration in Contested Sacred Sites,” Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 7 (2018): 250–273.

Deepak Mehta, “The Ayodhya Dispute: Law’s Imagination and the Functions of the Status Quo,” in Roma Chatterji, ed., Wording the World: Veena Das and Scenes of Inheritance (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).

Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount: From Solomon to the Golden Dome (New York: Continuum, 2007).

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