The Performance of Interreligious Dialogue in the Realm of International Relations
A Critical Reflection
Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) is neither a simple concept, nor a simple practice. Even before we consider the issues of such things as the ethics, hermeneutics, and praxis of understanding across diverse worlds of meaning, it is something that is enacted and performed according to social, cultural, and political discourses. The agendas of participants, sponsors, and any supposed audience all have consequences for the performativity of IRD. This paper will specifically focus on the concept of performance in relation to IRD in the political sphere, most particularly the way that IRD has become part of international relations. Attention will be given to typologies and framings of IRD, including what does, or does not, get classed as being IRD, or “true” dialogue, but herein no definition is prescribed, taking a broad approach. We will look at some specific examples of IRD in relation to track 1.5 diplomacy, noting how it relates to a securitised framing of dialogue and to what Oddbjørn Leirvik has termed “necessary dialogue”. The whole paper will be framed within the concept of performance, or performativity, which will be the main analytical approach, but taking a wider critical religious studies approach to considering how IRD is performed, or operates, within international relations.