Religion and violence: an anthropological approach

The burning of a heretic, the dismemberment of an apostate’s body, the flogging of a woman in a town square, the pogrom of a whole community, a liturgy around the walls of a city before a siege, the ritual bathing of crusaders in the Jordan river after the conquest of Jerusalem, what they have in common? Sacred implications of countless episodes of violence lead to the theory that religion and violence are inextricable. Does religion cause violence or, rather, does it behave in a specific way inside the groups and societies? Or, better, can religious violence be used to fix roles, gender, hierarchies or power struggles?

Almost two decades have elapsed since September 11, 2001. During this time, considerable progress has been made in research on characteristics and reasons for violence in the name of God, and now it’s time to face up to the argument from new interpretative paradigms, from a global perspective crossing different religious groups. The main objective of a scientific research should be to define interpretative tools based on historical and anthropological criteria, rather than on theological and cultural ones. The general aim should be to create methodological models applicable to different societies. The focus is the symbolic public use of “sacred” violence. A comparative analysis has to be carried out on monotheistic Abrahamic traditions, whose mutual interactions are the basis of contemporary European culture. A sample of historical case-studies referring to Mediterranean urban environments dating between7thand 17th centuries can be organized and analyzed. In particular, the objects of the survey are: sacrifice and sublimation, punishment of transgression and apostasy, the clash between different identities, uses  of violence to mark gender roles and sexual behaviors, psychological violence such as mockery or ridicule, symbolic implications of different forms of torment (e.g. fire, water, beheading, blood); ritual violence perpetrated on children to establish male supremacy.


The starting point are the current scientific debate in Religious Studies on religious identities and the definition of what is specifically religious in contemporary societies.


Studies on Religious Violence

Today, almost two decades on from September 11, 2001, it’s necessary to interpret the binomial Religion/Violence according to a new paradigm, in a global, cross cultural and cross religious perspective.  Since then, the academic context has been inundated with studies oriented toward explaining the features and the causes of religious activities connected with warfare and violent attitudes.

From one side, the value that each religion puts on a source of violence is overtaken and exceeded.

From the other, the differences in the ways in which violence is exercised between different traditions have become less and less; as well as a rigid discrimen between what is religious and what is secular has to be considered insignificant out of Western modern and contemporary cultural assets.

In particular William T. Cavanaugh[1]  has challenged the conventional wisdom about religion as a dangerous tendency leading to violence.  By dismantling the idea of a transhistorical and transcultural essence of religion, his scholarship argues that such a transhistorical and transcultural concept of religion as non-rational and violence-oriented is one of the fundamental myths of western society. The same goes for a clear distinction between what is religious and what is secular. Thus, this “mythes” can be used to give validity to political neo-colonial violence and must be reconsidered in the context of the Religious Studies.

Charles Kimball’s book When Religion becomes Evil[2] aims to distinguish between a religious sphere and “political institutions”, including tribes, empires, kingdoms, fiefs and, finally, states. Nevertheless a total theoretical separation is not possible if we consider events and societies from an historical point of view.

Martin Marty[3] argues that religion has a specific tendency to be divisive and therefore violent, but he has to admit that a definition of Religion remains at least problematic, if not impossible, and that religion and politics share some defining features. In other words warfare and violence spread in an intricate humus, hard to define in its components.

Richard Wentz[4]  admits that the borderline between what is secular and what is religious is very blurred and ends up emphasizing the tendency of Religion towards absolutism. The same absolutism is the root of violence: its origin – secular or religious – can be of secondary importance, in contrast to its theological consistency. The point of the analysis is what is absolute and its theological description and definition.

Mark Juergensmeyer[5] approaches the argument from a sociological perspective, and demonstrates that religion exacerbates the tendency to divide people into friends and enemies, us and them. He argues that religious violence has a specific non-rational, ferine, absolute character: it is not only absolutist and unrestrained by historical time, but his specific dimension is symbolic. This feature makes religious violence very close to war: warfare is itself like a ritual, a participatory drama that exemplifies the most profound aspects of life.

Relating to the general debate, Andrew Murphy[6] provides a coherent state of the art overview of the complex relationship between religion and violence, starting with a definition of religious violence: his survey can be considered a synthesis and a basis for further analysis.


Religious Studies in the current debate

These essays are relevant in the general scientific discussion on the object and specificity of the Religious Studies: an argument as problematic and tough as the relationships between religion and violence becomes central for the future of these disciplines.

The current debate inside International Association for the History of Religions and the European Association for the Study of Religions is focused on the concept of Interpretation: indeed, it is the very concept that may protect Humanities from the loss of their specific character. It may also stop the tendency to take the practices and methods of natural sciences as models (for example by focusing on quantitative aspects or by employing cognitivism instead of an historical approach). The concept of interpretation allows us to reflect on the historical and social aspect of any research[7].

In recent years more essays and monographic studies have brought innovations in the approach to religious phenomena: patterns and methods as a result have now drastically changed.

The concept of Identity (together with its historical implications) remains crucial: it is the cross roads pointing out the relationships between social and cultural aspects, religious belongings and beliefs, and family assets[8]. Creating, modifying, destroying or “fabricating” identities are processes which are extremely relevant in the contemporary globalized world[9]. The study of historical roots of these processes is also essential[10].

This discussion involves a different paradigm for the distinction between religious items and secular ones in the political and judicial domain[11]. New perspectives require taking a cross cultural and interdisciplinary view keeping the religious aspect in a central position[12].

The role of violence in such general social processes is crucial, as it marks indelibly the society: the symbolic code related with the human body has an extraordinary powerful impact force, persisting across generations.


Studies on embodied religious experiences

Meanwhile, new studies on the body and embodied religious experiences have highlighted some anthropological aspects that merit being explored in more depth on the historical side.

General anthropological concepts have arisen relating to the performing arts and the performance dimension of social life[13]. Liturgies and corporeal religious experiences are considered as part of a general way to live “in and through” the body[14].

Studies on global conflicts and social dramas have been carried out in different European urban contexts, opening relevant perspectives[15]. The connection between these experimental studies and historical ones is evident. Surveys on the senses as a central dimension in the Middle Ages, on popular theatre, on feasts and public performances in Italian cities have been completed in recent decades marking important progress in knowledge of the roots of the European society[16].


History of Liturgy

The studies on the Liturgies and the History of Liturgy have made significant progress: manuscript sources have been published and translated. Some new editing and publishing projects are ongoing[17].

The relationship between Liturgy and Violence is evident and foundational: not only the idea of the sacrifice is crucial, but also countless ritual gestures and performances are related with blood effusion, pain, death, mutilation, reclusion and seclusion.

Penitence liturgies include forms of self mortification and self violence: the human body is exposed and beaten or wounded as suffering symbol of the whole society expiating sins and crimes.

Urban processional liturgies create and re-create a sacred shared space where symbols can live and found their durable persistence.

This same space is also the place where different social and religious groups show their differences and their contrasting identities.

At example, the development of Christian liturgies in 11th century Jerusalem highlights how continuity and discontinuity can combine and alternate to ensure religious community’s survival, even in deeply modified contexts. In 1009, when Fathimid caliph al-Hakim ordered Holy Sepulchre’s total destruction, architectural space for worship disappeared. Thus celebrations continued as in the past (the Anastasis Typicon swears to this persistence) and allowed the building reconstruction. In the meanwhile Christian communities identified in the same worship could survive as religious group during Islamic rule, keeping frequent external contacts, mostly with Greek world (mid XI century).

From 1099 Latin conquerors introduced prominent discontinuity’s elements in the city life and in Christian liturgy itself (regular canons and Latin hierarchy had predominant roles and positions and brought their language, hymns and chants). Crusaders yard at Holy Sepulchre got a general rebuilding in the area.

Nevertheless some continuity with previous agiopolite liturgy has been ensured by specific worship, especially during Holy Week and paschal triduum: processional liturgies performed across the whole city became place for common worship of different and antagonist but coexisting Christian communities (Greeks, Armenians, Siri, Ethiopians, Coptic, monks, hermits).

If Latin liturgies became prevalent, Christian non Latin liturgies had their parallel persistence (antiqua et nova consuetudo), allowing the whole cosmopolite population to take part in celebrations and ensuring that Christian worship could continue after the fall of crusader kingdoms and after Latin and “western” inhabitants banishment, in 1187[18].

These aspects become even more evident and relevant when we consider the violence, displayed in a public, sacred and ritual dimension.

Previous surveys that I have carried out in last ten years on Roman Liturgies and Jerusalem’s differentiate Christian liturgies are along these lines[19].


This survey


keeps as main focus the human body, considered as the fulcrum of a cultural and religious cross, a symbolic code shared by different contexts: what happens in the centre of a body makes such an impressive impact that the whole society is, as a result, influenced and marked in a deep and durable way;

it overcomes the traditional distinctions between different religious traditions and religious groups, according to the current debate in the academic sector of the Religious studies;

it considers the distinctions between what is religious and what is secular as elements of a large scale social and cultural dialectic, assuming that the rigid separation between what is lay and what is religious is an item proper only of modern and contemporary European culture;

it studies religious violence as a symbolic element, containing different meanings and functions;

it considers religious violence as a tool used to define and to fix power struggles and social structures;

it aims to identify the anthropological and social role of religious violence in a transversal way, across different social and religious contexts;

it aims to codify the uses of symbolic violence in a methodological frame applicable to various societies and/or religious groups;

it sets out a sample of case studies and events reconstructed on historical and documental basis;

it provides scholars and academics with an online data base open access that describes and analyzes a relevant sample of episodes and events of specific historical and geographical contexts;

it provides decision makers, politicians, the media and  cultural operators with new elements to interpret the phenomenon in contemporary Europe, in a global scenario characterized by migrations and the relocation of social and religious groups.


Interdisciplinary approach

The survey is strongly multidisciplinary and cross disciplinary. The actions refer to Religious Studies methodologies and specificity, but meanwhile the analysis is based on historical techniques and historical-documental exegesis.

Moreover, specific recognized tools for cultural anthropology, the study of performance arts, the liturgy, and the semiotic and sociology are used. Iconographic instruments, data and methods of urban geography and archaeology are also integrated.

The analyses refer to two main critical tools: the concept of Religious Tradition and the concept of Religious Group.

The first is inclusive enough to allow the insertion of cult, devotion and rites connected only in non direct ways to the official theologies (e.g. popular feast, family behaviors, particular local cults). Furthermore it lets us consider the theology embodied in the history of a group:  this approach is connected with the idea of a theology in progress (in other words, with a theology based on sacred books, norms and formulae, but open to inter-actions with cultural changes and different cultural contributions).

The concept of Religious Group, defined as a set of individuals whose identity as such is distinctive in terms of common religious creed, beliefs, doctrines, practices, or rituals, allows relevant interactions with the sociological methods and fosters an integrated study of complex and dynamic societies[20].

The adoption of anthropological criteria and the selection of anthropological objects (e.g. feasts, ritual, legends, symbolism of natural elements) aims to expand the perspective of the study, including and pointing out items ignored or underestimated by traditional approach.

An historical method based on documental written sources ensures an objective basis open to different academic discussions, allowing also cross cultural and cross religious matches in a contemporary perspective.


Methodological problems

The first objective of the research is to define new interpretative tools, organized in a complex  methodological frame, enabling one to consider the phenomenon of  Religious Violence from an Historical and Anthropological perspective, not just from a theological and cultural one.  The frame is oriented to generate interpretative models adaptable to different social contexts, including the contemporary world.

A secondary objective is to clarify episodes and events which are not well known or are described only by non published sources, to complete a general scenario of the uses of the Religious Violence in the Mediterranean area.

The focus is the symbolic use of violence defined in connection with sacred rites, with its starting point being the human body, understood as a palimpsest of religious and social dynamics.  With this as the starting point, it is possible to make a symbolic expression with a huge impact, communicable both inside and outside a religious group.


A comparative analysis

A comparative analysis is carried out on public uses of violence in monotheistic Abrahamic traditions, whose mutual interactions are the basis of the contemporary European culture. The space where the phenomena take place is the Mediterranean area, specifically the urban environments: not only the cities, but any forms of organized settlements (temporary and military settlements, villaenovae, monasteries and caravanserais have been the theatres for religious violence with deep consequences for relationships in and between religious groups.

The period under consideration stretches from 7th to 17th century, the long Middle Ages coinciding with: the end of the economic and political Roman unity of the Mediterranean; the institutional organization of the Germanic people settled in southern Europe; the spread of the Islam; moving and migrations of the Hebrew communities; creation of pre-statual and statual entities[21]. The establishment of reigns and empires is also included:  in these contexts, such as the Ottoman Empire, specific legislation regulated religious groups, rites and the use of violence.

In particular, the case studies are referring to: Rome, some cities of the Italian peninsula, Cordova and urban environments of the Iberian peninsula, Jerusalem, Akko, Cairo, Istanbul.


The presence of the Popes and the relevant role of religious ceremonies in everyday life make Rome a preferential object of this survey. Institutional aspect, normative implications and political aspects are evident in each episode occurred there in the considered period.

Furthermore, pilgrims, different Christian groups, different diplomatic and linguistic foreign communities created a composite urban microcosm unified by long and frequent processional liturgies performed in a common public space. The violence has been an important element of these differentiated liturgies.


The relevant historiographical tradition of studies about the Italian cities and their political dynamics provides an high number of cases of symbolic violence, together with documental references. Thus, Verona, Mantua, Florence, Venice, Genoa, Naples are the landscape of many episodes of religious violence in a very fruitful way.

Cordova, Toledo and Lisbona has been the theatre of the changes from an Islamic political organization to the reconquista, setting a new institution system and a new Christian asset related with the Spanish (and Portuguese) monarchy. Minority groups and religious inter relations in the Iberian Peninsula are an interesting context for this survey.

The controversial history of Jerusalem, symbolic fulcrum of the co-existing Abrahamic monotheisms, provides countless episodes of violence that generated symbolic identity narratives influencing attitudes and political decisions.

The fortified harbor of Akko has been the West-East arrival and the departure point during the whole “long Middle Ages” here considered. Refugees of different religious groups gathered there after the fall of the Crusader Kingdoms. Many of them give counts and reports about violence, battles, massacres.

The Cairo, hearth of Mamluk dominion, has been chosen as study field in this proposed project because of its cosmopolite dimension: merchants, sufis, Islamic scholars, Coptic churches and Jewish communities lived there together, facing their differences and their mutual interactions. Interreligious theological relevant matches took place there during the considered centuries.

Istanbul, as the ottoman capital city, has been the center of the political model based on the millet, social and administrative groups defined on a religious basis. Controversial, exchanges, clashes, public decisions took place there in a symbolic strong way.



The survey is conducted mostly using written documental sources, and matches in iconographic, archeological and geo environmental data.

Primarily considered in the research  process are:

  • Urban reports and local history (including the roman chronicles of 16th and 17th centuries; medieval and Renaissance chronicles of the Italian cities; Arab chronicles; Ottoman chronicles; Hebrew chronicles; Armenian chronicles);
  • Travel reports and pilgrimage texts (featured in the writingsof Christian pilgrims and missionaries travelling from Europe to Near East during 13th and 14th centuries, such as Niccolò da Poggibonsi, Burcardo del Monte Sion, Ricoldo di Montecroce);
  • Geographical texts (e.g. El Drisi, Marin Sanudo); maps and descriptions of battles and warfare episodes;
  • Liturgical texts (the project involves the analysis and complete examination of the Christian liturgical texts relating to Rome, with specific attention being paid to the papal liturgies and the participation of various Christian and non-Christian groups, and in particular the Jews; a complete analysis of the Christian liturgical sources of the city of Jerusalem is also planned, with reference to penitential liturgies linked to episodes and practices of violence);

–          Texts from the crusades (the project involves the analysis of crusades sources (in Latin, Greek, Armenian) for the reconstruction of episodes of violence and war explicitly linked to religious rituals and the sacred dimension); different and opposites points of views around the same event will be considered and pointed out;

  • Juridical and normative Hebrew texts; Talmudic sources and Talmudic literature;
  • Hagiographies (Lives of saints, rabbis, heroes providing historical elements and behavioral models related with acting or suffering violence);
  • Narratives concerning the martyrs – Martyrdom is a central issue related with identity and with the definition and transformations of the religious identities in the complex societies. Thus, this kind of sources are relevant to answer topic questions: What is a martyr? When a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew can be acknowledged as a martyr? When a killing or a persecution is acted in odium fidei? A theological definition of martyrdom includes the issue of the freedom: freedom to profess the faith and freedom of conscience, and consequently, freedom of rebellion to a human rule’s system and rebellion against even ecclesiastical hierarchies. Nevertheless this item could be differently pointed out in the narratives of specific episodes that merit to be studied more in depth;
  • Diplomatic reports (e.g. documents from the Vatican Archives, from private archives in Rome, reports of ambassadors, Kingdom of Spain’ diplomatic documents from Valladolid Archive). Specifical attention will be given to cases of violence against prisoners identified on a religious basis (faithful or onfidels) and to negotiations for their release.

Iconographic items (such as illuminated manuscripts, engravings, drawings, paintings) are also useful to clarify the urban space and its symbolic values and to testify the use of the human body as well the public rituals of violence.

At example, the engravings and graphical reports about the process carried against the thesis of Luis de Molina held in the Dominican Archive of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome are an iconographic complete narrative about the heresy, the Roman Inquisition, the Catholic hierarchies, the popular involvement. Incisions and documents, together, witness many forms of psychological violence, derision, mockery.



The analysis is oriented to define on a certain historical basis some recurrent and customary uses of Religious Violence marking some anthropological categories, such as identity/alterity, inclusion/exclusion, gender roles and gender models, roles and rules in a group, reconciliation, sacrifice’s sublimation.

In particular, the survey considers:

  • the religious basis of any uses of the violence (punishment of transgressions, punishment of apostasy, creating the enemy to control or to motivate a social group, clashes between different identities, forms of “holy war” or sacred implications of the war);
  • the use of symbolic or ritual violence in the building identities processes (e.g. in the creation of an “other” characterized as impure, dangerous, ugly or threatening);
  • rituals of reconciliation and of penitence oriented to realign and rectify divisions or hostility inside a society or inside a group;
  • sacrifice’s rituals and symbols sublimating the violence;
  • rites and liturgies of purification following battles and massacres;
  • the use of the violence as tool defining gender roles and sexual behaviors, as well as family and ethnical bonds;
  • violence as an instrument to set relations between different groups and to reinforce the internal hierarchies (specifically in religious groups);
  • narratives of martyrdom, devotional counts and religious narratives based on the concept of sacrifice or sacrificial substitution (the descriptions of martyrdom, public tortures and persecutions can be used to create a behavioral model of resistance in some period of conflict between groups or in some phases of religious identity deep transformation: the example of the martyr becomes a living exhortation to keep beliefs, positions, roles. Thus, violence suffered claims its place as a strong element in the dialectic between religious and cultural traditions);
  • forms of mockery and public scorn performed as psychological violence against minority groups, transgressors of religious rules, rebels;
  • symbolic values of various torments, different instruments of torture, public executions performed as theatrical events(e.g. use of fire or water, beheading, dismembering, use of the crucifixion, use of blood, ritual food served before the torments, etc.);
  • ritual violence against children considered as a scandalous accusation moved against a minority group; some episodes against Hebrew communities are notorious and have been studied in depth, but need further analysis concerning their inter-actions in the whole society and the forms of narrative that they have originated). The case of the cult of saint Simonino of Trient is an example of circumstances leading to trial, tortures and final public death execution of some Hebrews charged to have ritually killed a baby;
  • any cases in which the specific kind of violence against children or boys can be utilized to assert the preeminent role of the adult male in a religious group (different forms of this violence, such as trauma mental control used in closed religious groups, are studied).

To outline the same forms of violence in various cultural traditions is also an objective of the proposed research. Transversal and cross cultural uses will be outlined in a comparative perspective. Furthermore, special attention will given to debates and discussions on the violence itself and to violent religious riots in particular conditions of social change.


Some examples

Here below are some examples of considered case studies, some representative episodes related with general social processes and symbolic items impacting on the whole society:


  • Narratives about the battle of Badr (624 CE – 2E) and the ideas of violence and clemency at the origins of Islamic spread – the proposed project considers the texts reporting the event both as historical sources and as behavioral models proposed to believers;
  • The history of Martyrs of Cordova related to the crime of apostasy and blasphemy in the Shariah law and to the legitimacy of Christian reconquista of islamised Spain (11th – 12th centuries) – the text of the Memoria Martyrum of Eulogius of Cordova is only the starting point for the reconstruction of the events; indirect historical sources and juridical sources are considered as well; the uses of these violence episodes during the reconquista are analyzed as part of an identity building process based on religious memories;
  • Narratives of “neomartyrs” in Coptic and Armenian traditions (8th – 13th centuries) – several episodes emerge not only in hagiographical texts, but also in city chronicles and general histories: as some of them are anonymous or/and incomplete, this survey aims to cross different sources to define events and contexts;
  • Symbolic gestures performed by Christian, Muslims and Jews during and after different clashes to conquest Jerusalem and to define the religious topology of the Sacred City (7th-13th centuries) – ritual blessings, processions, prayers, ceremonies of purification, rites of consecration and re-consecration are evident in memorial texts related with the three monotheistic traditions; the focus of the analysis is the connection between ritual practices and events of violence, the persistence of the violence in the identity memory living in the urban symbolic spaces;
  • Corporal punishment and self punishment in monastic communities – a comparative study of monastic rules can highlight the uses of the disciplina (the Regula Magistri and the Regula Benedicti itself legitimate and suggest this practice against pupils, novices, rebels or lazy monks); on other side, homilies and texts of reformers monks (such as e.g. Pier Damiani) recommend various forms of self corporal mortification; hagiographies provides models of self punishments; documents and monastic chronicles report about internal clashes, beatings, rebellions, both in Western and Eastern monasteries. The project considers these episodes in the perspective of uses of violence in the closed structures, focusing on power dynamics and religious symbolic elements;
  • The spectacular burning of two hundreds heretics in the roman amphitheatre of Verona in 1276, at the conclusion of the repression of the Cathars in Southern France and Northern Italy – the public execution is related with several previous episodes; in the proposed project the chronicle of Ubertino da Romano will be related with other witnesses and with elements about the contexts of the North Italian cities at the beginning of the Signorie (majors and emerging families of Verona, Mantua and Vicenza are evidently involved in the persecution of heretics);
  • The martyrdom of John of Phanijoit – His Life[22] is a passio generated and written in the intercultural Cairo, in the 13th century Egypt at the beginning of the rule of Sal ad Din); Distinguishing identities is the methodological key to read and to interpret the text, that relates the story of a local flax merchant named John, who converted to Islam from Christianism, moved by luxury inspired by a Muslim woman. Later, repented, he publically reconverted to Christianity to be – finally – executed for apostasy. The text is written in Coptic language (the survivor manuscript is conserved at the Vatican Library, ms Vaticanus Copticus 69): the same linguistic choice a resistance of the Christian Coptic community to a general assimilation process (the Passio has been considered the last non Arabic narrative Christian text in Egypt). The contents provide an interpretive model of relationships between different religious groups as moral struggle to withstand the assimilation. At the same time, theological and dogmatic items are not considered: the Passio outlines a context and some dynamics, generally evident during the processes of cultural and religious assimilation;
  • Pogrom against the Hebrew community of Prague in 1389 related with the debate on the reform of the Church and of the whole society (role of laity and clerics, role of women) – the massacre took place against the background of disputes between Christians on the Eucharist and on the communion: Who can celebrate the consecration and the Mass? Only male priests? Who can be admitted to the communion? Who is pure or impure? The communion (and of consequence the Salvation) is for everybody? In this scenario the Jews are the “excluded” by definition: allow them to stay in touch with Christians means to open and to reform the society; other way, their elimination means that rigid rules and restrictions are prevailing;
  • Public corporal punishment for female and male sinners against the marriage considered as religious sacrament in Rome under Papal rule (e.g. adultery, bigamy, pimping) – Roman chronicles of 16th and 17th centuries provides several episodes and punctual information: a mosaic of simple mentions and indirect references wait for a systematic composition;
  • Solemn processions leading heretics to capital punishment in Rome in 16th and 17th centuries (with focus on the symbolic participation of different religious and social groups) – as a death punishment was considered a popular show, the forms of the participation put in evidence the sensitivity of the city, the shared symbolic codes, internal social partitions; literary, documental and iconographic sources will be useful to define a general asset deeply marked by daily legal public violence.

[1]Cavanaugh, W. T.: The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. New York, 2009.

[2]Kimball, Ch.: When Religion becomes Evil. New York NY, 2002.

[3] Marty, M.: Politics, Religion and the Common Good. New York NY, 2000.

[4]Wentz, R.: Why People do bad things in the name of Religion. New York NY, 1993

[5]Juergensmeyer, M.: Terror in the Mind of God. New York NY 2003.

[6] Murphy, A.: The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence. Malden MA,2011.

[7]Altini, C. – Hoffman, Ph. –Ruepke J.: Issues of interpretation. Texts, Images, Rites.Stuttgard, 2018.

[8]See: McCutcheon, R. T.: Fabricating Identities. University of Alabama, 2017; Miller, Monica R. (ed.): Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion. Social and Rhetorical Techniques Examined. Sheffield, 2015; Touna, V. (ed.): Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity Towards a Dynamic Theory of People and Place. Sheffield, (in press).

[9]Sheedy, M. (ed.):Identity, Politics and the Study of Islam. Current Dilemmas in the Study of Religions. Sheffield, 2018.

[10] Consider as model of integrated interdisciplinary survey: Adams, J. – Hess, C. (edd.): The medieval roots of Antisemitism.Continuities and discontinuities from the Middle Ages to present day. New York 2018.

[11]Ingman, P. –  Utriainen, T.–Hovi, T. and Broo,M. (eds): The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization: Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate. Sheffield, 2016.

[12] The most up-to-date systematic report about the scientific critical debate is: Antes, P. – Geertz, A. W. – Rothstein, M. (edd.): Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion. In Celebration of Tim Jensen’s 65th Birthday. Sheffield, 2016.

[13] Consider as examples: Le Breton, D.: Anthropologie du corps et modernité. Paris 2008; Le Breton, D.: Corps et société. Essaie de sociologie et anthropologie du corps, Paris 1985; Le Breton, D.: Il sapore del mondo. Un’antropologia dei sensi, Milano 2007; Henry, M.: Incarnazione. Una filosofia della carne (2000), Torino 2001.

[14] See: Bonaccorso, G.: Il rito e l’altro, La liturgia come tempo, linguaggio, azione, Città del Vaticano 2012; Fabietti U., Materia sacra. Corpi, oggetti, immagini, feticci nella pratica religiosa, Milano 2014.

[15] A contemporary side of this thematic is efforded in Bernardi, C. – Giaccardi, C. (edd.): Comunità in atto. Conflitti globali, interazioni locali, drammaturgie sociali, Milano 2007.

[16]See in particular: Howes, D. (ed.): The Variety of Sensorial Experience. A Sourcebook in the Anthropology of the Sense, Toronto 1991; Bernardi, C.: Agenda aurea. Festa, teatro, evento, Milano 2012; Aronson-Lehavi, Sharon: Street Scenes: Late MedievalActing and Performance, Palgrave 2011; Bino, C.: Dal trionfo al pianto. La fondazione del teatro della misericordia nel Medioevo (V-XIII sec.), Milano 2008; Boquet, D. – Nagy, P. (edd.): Sensible Moyen Âge. Une histoire des émotionsdansl’Occidentmédiéval, Seuil, 2015; Bynum, C.: The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336, Columbia University Press, 1995.

[17] Consider e.g the project EBE

[18] Stroumsa G.: Christians  and Christianity in the Holy Land: from the origins to the Latin Kingdoms. Turnhout, 2006; Abu-Munshar M.Y: Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians. A history of tolerance and tensions. London-New York, 2007.

[19] Il Santo Sepolcro a Gerusalemme. Guida storica. Wien (Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag), in press; Il Santo Sepolcro a Gerusalemme. Riti, testi e racconti tra Costantino e l’età delle crociate. CITTÀ DEL VATICANO (Libreria Editrice Vaticana) 2012; Pievi del Nord Italia. Cristianesimo, istituzioni, territorio, San Giovanni Lupatoto (Arsenale Editrice) 2009; La fortuna del Santo Sepolcro nel Medioevo. Spazio, liturgia, architettura. Milano (Jaca Book) 2008; Templari e Santo Sepolcro. Liturgie e processioni nella topografia di Gerusalemme. in:  Andenna, Giancarlo – Fonseca, Cosimo Damiano – Filippini, Elisabetta (edd.): I Templari. Grandezza e caduta della ‘Militia Christi’., Milano, 2016, pp. 171-180; Liturgie di Gerusalemme nello specchio delle fonti di pellegrinaggio tra l’età costantiniana e la conquista crociata, in: Benvenuti, Anna – Piatti, Pierantonio (edd.): Come a Gerusalemme. Evocazioni, riproduzioni, imitazioni dei Luoghi Santi tra Medioevo e Età Moderna. FIRENZE 2013, pp. 97-132; Liturgia e partecipazione nei riti del Battesimo tra X e XII secolo. I “casi” del fonte di Chiavenna e della vasca di Fidenza, in: Calapaj A M, Della Pietra L, Grillo A, Nicolotti A,Pieri F, Salvarani R, Tagliaferri R, Terrin A N. (edd.): Liturgia e partecipazione. Forme del coinvolgimento rituale. Padova, 2013, pp. 39-58; Costantino e la nascita dei santuari cristiani nei luoghi santi. RIVISTA LITURGICA, vol. 2; 2013, pp. 301-321; Una imitatio medievale dei santuari gerosolimitani nel cuore dell’altopiano etiopico: Lalibela. RIVISTA LITURGICA, vol. 2; 2013; pp. 407-412; Liturgie e culture tra l’età di Gregorio Magno e il pontificato di Leone III. Aspetti rituali, ecclesiologici e istituzionali, CITTÀ DEL VATICANO, 2011.

[20] See as example of application the data base

[21] About the limits of the period and the concept of “long Middle Ages” consider Le Goff, Jacques: The Birth of Europe. Boston, 2005.

[22] Zaborowski, J. R.: The Coptic Martyrdom of John of Phanijoit. Assimilation and Conversion to Islam in Thirteeth-Century Egypt. Leiden-Boston, 2005.