Religion, Martyrdom and Global Uncertainties 1914-2014

Lead Research Organisation: Open University
Department Name: Religious Studies

Abstract

The leadership activities will seek to integrate key insights from other relevant GU projects, exploring both various understandings of religion and quasi-religion, and weighing their importance against other non-religious factors. Work will proceed by means of telephone interviews with researchers leading to an initial working paper. User responses will be gathered through two seminars and the project website; and selected researchers will atttend a symposium intended to distil insights and implications for users and to present them in an accessible form. A widely-circulated hardcopy summary of the outcomes together with online video resources will be made available to users, who will be invited to attend one of a series of dissemination seminars to be held at various locations around the UK.

The research project will examine the development of the concept of martyrdom and sacrificial death in Britain and Ireland since the outbreak of the First World War. It will proceed through archival, library and web-based research on historic sources, including books and pamphlets, newspapers and online databases, supplemented as necessary by site visits. There will also be a series of semi-structured interviews with political and religious activists, carried out in partnership with the Belfast-based Institute for Conflict Research, in four contrasting locations in Britain and Ireland, Belfast, Bradford, Dublin and London.

Planned Impact

Non-academic beneficiaries of both the leadership activities and the research project will fall into three main categories:
1. Religious organizations and their leaders. Initial soundings suggest that there will be strong interest in the project from senior figures in organizations such as the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, and the East London Mosque. A particular link has been established with the Christian-Muslim Forum (to be represented on the Advisory Group by Dr Philip Lewis) and we would anticipate further interest from groups operating in inter-faith relations. Previous work by the PI and by ICR has established strong networks with religious practitioners especially in London and in Northern Ireland, and we would expect further to build on these as work proceeds.
2. Policy-makers and practitioners in central and local government and in NGOs and community groups, concerned with issues of security and community cohesion. The project will build upon the networks with this category of users being developed in the seminars to be held during 2012 under the PI's current Global Uncertainties project 'Protestant-Catholic Conflict: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Realities'.
3. The media, and through them a wider public interested in or concerned about religion and its diverse effects on the security and stability of society, and/or the sensitive and well-informed commemoration of the centenaries of 2014 and 2016. These anniversaries may also give rise to interest from practitioners in the arts.
In relation to all these categories the expectation is that a circle of existing contacts, arising both from the PI's prior GU work and his AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship on London's religious history, will be multiplied during the course of the programme through drawing on the enthusiasm and networks of the individuals initially involved.

Respective anticipated benefits will be as follows:
1. Religious leaders and organizations will be enabled to view their activities in constructively critical perspective, seeing themselves as others see them in well-digested concise academically-informed analysis. Existing experience in dialogue with this group of users indicates that such contributions will generally be warmly welcomed in strengthening a valuable objective middle ground of discourse between partisan advocacy of religion and polemical secular or atheist attacks. It is therefore realistic to look for consequent medium-term behavioural change reinforcing the potential of organized religion to be a force for stabilization rather than insecurity.
2. Policy makers and practitioners - for whom the religious dimension is one among many - will be provided with an accessible digest of high quality recent research that will help to inform their thinking and decision-making. Those with a stronger interest will be able to participate in user seminars thus further developing their understanding of the issues and the project team's awareness of further potential impacts.
3. The quality of journalism and broadcasting on relevant subjects will be enhanced by the availability of a concise integrated summary of Global Uncertainties and related research on religion, thus leading to improved wider public understanding of the issues. Media interest in marking the 2014 and 2016 centenaries will be met by the provision of insight and analysis grounded in detailed research data.

While some benefits will be immediate, it is recognized that others will be medium to long-term ones, resulting from the continued dissemination and permeation of the outcomes.

Publications


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Wolffe J (2015) 'Martyrs as really as St Stephen was a martyr'? Commemorating the British dead of the First World War in International journal for the Study of the Christian Church
 
Description In line with the specifications of the original call the achievements of this grant relate both to leadership and synthesis and to original research.
Key leadership achievements were:
• The production of a report, Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties, drawing on an extensive programme of interviews with academics and roundtables with stakeholders, providing an accessible overview of current research in the field. It is available both in hardcopy (with approximately 400 copies already distributed) and online at http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/reports, together with associated videos that provide a 6 minute introduction to the themes of the written report.
• The holding of a series of meetings with diverse groups of non-academic stakeholders in Belfast, Blackburn, Exeter, Edinburgh, London and Milton Keynes to publicise the report and discuss its implications. The London meeting in January 2015 was a high-profile event in Parliament sponsored by John Glen, MP (Conservative) and Dai Havard, MP (Labour) chaired by Caroline Wyatt (BBC Religious Affairs correspondent) and attracted an attendance of around 100 people. Total attendances at the 5 events was around 200. The Blackburn event was noteworthy for active constructive engagement from members of the local Muslim community, especially the co-organiser Anjum Anwar, which has led to several follow-up invitations. In general these activities have resulted in the development of extensive informal contacts and networks - both academic and non-academic - which provide a strong basis for ongoing effective public engagement.
Key research achievements were:
• Conducting a series of 45 semi-structured interviews with community activists in Belfast, Bradford, Dublin and London exploring contemporary attitudes to perceived martyrdom and sacrificial death, in the context particularly of ongoing terrorist incidents and the upcoming centenaries of the First World War and the Easter Rising. Respondents were drawn from a cross-section of Muslim, Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds In addition to providing data for the PI's ongoing writing and publication activity, this material will be deposited in the UK Data Archive where it will be a valuable resource for other researcher in the field.
• Archival research and fieldwork (in various locations in Belgium, England, France, Ireland and Scotland) on the commemoration of the dead of the First World War, which, in particular, has shed new light on the tensions between religious and secular influences and on attitudes to religions other than Christianity. Further research on attitudes to both religious and secular/nationalistic martyrdom during the course of the twentieth century (for example in the controversy over the Falklands Service in 1982) is linking this work to insights derived from the contemporary interviews.
Exploitation Route The findings of the leadership strand are of considerable significance for the development of policy by central and local government and by NGOs, especially in highlighting the importance of ensuring that responses to ongoing security challenges, from Da'esh and others, are informed by a sophisticated understanding of religion.
These finding are gaining new audiences through contacts from the project. For example
• In his role as external champion for the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research Dr Tristram-Riley Smith is giving invaluable assistance in promoting awareness of them to policy-makers and others.
• The PI expects to participate in the new Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats at Lancaster University, which will be an important channel for taking forward the outcomes in both academic and non-academic contexts.
• As a direct result of the project the PI was invited to become a Trustee of Lapido Media - Centre for Religious Literacy in Journalism, which has substantial potential as a route for disseminating and advancing project findings in print and broadcast media.
Opportunities will be taken to promote the research strand in response to the Easter Rising centenary in April 2016 and the ongoing centenary of the First World War. It is intended that this work will both feed into the growing academic interest in memorialisation and memory, and the work of agencies encouraging inclusive and non-confrontational forms of commemoration in the UK and Ireland.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Other
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/
 
Description Between late 2014 and early 2016, key findings have been presented in a number of public seminars and workshops in Belfast, Blackburn, Burnley, Edinburgh, Exeter, London, and Milton Keynes. While it is still early to identify specific impacts, these events aroused significant interest and discussion, and the indications are that they have had a significant influence on the thinking of participants. Return invitations to Belfast and to Lancashire are indicative that a worthwhile contribution was made, and that and ongoing conversation is valued.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal
 
Description APPG Religious Literacy Report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.reonline.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/APPG-on-RE-Improving-Religious-Literacy-full-r...
 
Description Religious Literacy in Journalism 
Organisation Lapido Media: Centre for Religious Literacy in Journalism
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We shared organizational and financial responsibility for a joint event in Parliament in January 2015. Subsquently Prof Wolffe accepted an invitation to join the Board of Lapido as an academic trustee, where he continues to advise them in ensuring that their work and outputs meet appropriate standards of academic accuracy and rigour.
Collaborator Contribution Lapido made a substantial organizational and financial contribution to the joint event in January 2015, and continue to provide a valuable channel for dissemination and impact.
Impact January 2015 public engagement event - listed elsewhere. Involved history, religious studies, sociology and media/journalism studies. For contributions by Prof Wolffe to Lapido's blog and example references to his work there see: http://www.lapidomedia.com/guest-blog-islam-christianity-stronger-tradition-legitimate-violence (Nov. 2014) http://www.lapidomedia.com/may-counter-extremism-measures-break-muslim-hearts (May 2015) http://www.lapidomedia.com/mp-backs-report-call-%20for-greater-religious-literacy (Jan 2015)
Start Year 2014
 
Description All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave an initial invited presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Group in April 2016, as one of two witness sessions to inform the development of their report on religious literacy. Following the publication of the report (see impacts on policy) I was invited back to give a further presentation to the APPG at the launch of their report in January 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://www.reonline.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/APPG-on-RE-Improving-Religious-Literacy-full-r...
 
Description Commemorating the Dead of World War 1 (Brussels) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact Around 50 people attended the presentation in Brussels, including EU Commission staff, religious practitioners, and students, from a range of nationalities. Both the British and the German ambassadors to Belgium were present.

David White (Honorary Director General European Commission) writes 'Our European Union confronts major issues on so many fronts. The need to stimulate discussion down the avenue of faith is greater than ever. So the timing could hardly have been better. I believe that you helped us raise the game.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Commemorating the Dead of World War 1 (Truro) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 55 people attended the lecture at Truro Cathedral, which was followed by lively discussion.

None as yet, but useful publicity for work and contacts made.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Commemorating the Dead of World War I (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Approximately 30 people - including clergy and policy practitioners - attended this lecture, part of a symposium entitled 'Going to War' hosted by Westminster Abbey Institute and the Scott Holland Trust. There was lively discussion.

Useful contacts and conversations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Extremism: Is it All Bad? (Burnley) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This invitation to talk about the research in another Lancashire town was a follow-up to the earlier successful events in Blackburn. The event in Burnley in November took place under the shadow of the terrorist attacks in Paris the previous weekend, which made the issues particularly timely and topical. Prof Wolffe's presentation on the dangers of stereotyping drew on both his GU projects, and stirred extensive discussion and questioning from an audience that included a substantial proportion of sixth-form and younger school students as well as teachers, other professionals and third sector representatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Extremism: Is it all bad? (Rochdale) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This event in February 2016 was a repetition of the successful event in Burnley the previous November, with Prof Wolffe again delivering his presentation on stereotyping. It was well and intelligently received by the audience, which religious/community leaders and several Rochdale Borough Councillors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Getting Religion - Challenging religious illiteracy in a time of global uncertainty (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This event held in Parliament in collaboration with Lapido Media was the main public launch of the results of our year-long analysis of current university research thinking around issues of religion and security. Our shared key message centred on the need for us all to develop our religious literacy if we are to effectively understand and address the challenges that we face in a time of global uncertainty. With a particular focus on the media and conflict reportage, we were pleased that Caroline Wyatt, formerly BBC Defence and now Religion Correspondent, moderated the event. Our eminent panellists - Dr Mustafa Baig, Professor Grace Davie, Betsy Hiel, Tom Holland and Dr Marat Shterin - scoped our present predicament from within several disciplines. Around 100 delegates attended in person, representing a diverse constituency of policy-makers, academics, journalists and practitioners, and they were given the opportunity to discuss and recommend actions that may help inform awareness of religious issues in relation to security and global affairs. Video of the event and copies of the presentations were subsequently made available on the website and it was quite extensively reported in the media (for links see url below).

The event was supported by the RCUK Partnership for Security, Crime and Research and sponsored by John Glen, MP (Conservative) and Dai Havard, MP (Labour) on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Uncertainties.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/events
 
Description Religion and Security Roundtable (Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact About 15 people attended roundtable discussion, which informed subsequent development of project and especially Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties report

Ongoing dialogue with participants
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Religion and Security Roundtable (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact 15 people attended, informing subsequent development of project, especially Religion, Security and Global Uncertainities report

Ongoing contact with some participants
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Religion and Security: Media perspectives 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Meeting with 3 senior Northern Ireland journalists, who engaged constructively with the project, and advised us on strategies for media engagement.

One of the participants, William Scholes of the Irish News, has recently (16.10.14) published a full-page article in his newspaper (the leading moderate nationalist newspaper in Northern Ireland) offering a thoughtful and very positive summary and evaluation of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.irishnews.com/news/storyId/1386489
 
Description Religion, Conflict and Security Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 20 people representing a cross-section of political, professional, education, religious and media interests took part in a two day workshop which I hosted to identify key implications of the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties (Edinburgh) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This event, hosted in collaboration of the School of Divinity (especially the Centre for Theology and Public Issues and the Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace project) at the University of Edinburgh, provided an opportunity to discuss the implications of the report in a Scottish context. There were two sessions each introduced by a presentation from John Wolffe. In the first session Understanding and Addressing Sectarianism: Scottish Perspectives, the other speakers were Stewart J. Brown (University of Edinburgh), Dave Scott (Nil by Mouth) and Charlie Irvine (Place of Hope). In the second session Getting Religion: Informing Policy and Media Responses to Violence response to John Wolffe's presentation were given by John Mason MSP (SNP, Glasgow Shettleston), Jolyon Mitchell (University of Edinburgh) and Mona Siddiqui (University of Edinburgh). Both sessions generated wideranging and insightful discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/events
 
Description Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties (Milton Keynes) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This event offered an opportunity to discuss the implications of our recently published 'Religion, Security, and Global Uncertainties' report, and complemented our other event on 6th January in London - which targeted the media, policy makers and practitioners - by providing an opportunity for more specifically academic reflection on the project and the potential for future related research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/events
 
Description Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties: Implications for local communities (Blackburn) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This event at Blackburn Cathedral was co-hosted by Anjum Anwar MBE, the Dialogue Development Officer. It was attended by a diverse constituency of around 30 people (including significantly representation both from Lancashire Police and from the local Muslim community), with a wide range of views expressed. Professor John Wolffe began the proceedings with a presentation outlining our report, with reflections on the importance of considering 'cultural' or 'soft' security, and thus, the need for more work to be done to make people feel secure about their own identity and culture through nurturing a shared sense of belonging. In subsequent wide-ranging and lively discussion the importance of enhancing religious literacy was particularly emphasized and mutual understanding between the various constituencies represented was enhanced.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/events
 
Description Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties: Implications for the Northern Ireland Churches (Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact In partnership with the Very Revd Dr Norman Hamilton in his capacity as Co-Convenor of the Church and Society Committee of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, this event brought together academics, clergy and representatives of parachurch organisations, including the Evangelical Alliance and Irish Churches. The aim of this event was to assess the practical implications of our Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties research for Northern Ireland Churches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.open.ac.uk/arts/research/religion-martyrdom-global-uncertainties/events
 
Description Remembering 1916: Martyrdom and Sacrifice (Belfast) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This talk, at Union Theological College in Belfast, was given at the invitation of the Council for Church and Society of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and drew a substantial audience (50-60) from all over Northern Ireland, as well as a few from the Republic of Ireland. It formed part of their endeavours to facilitate constructive reflection and response to the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, both of which fall in 2016. Prof Wolffe's presentation stimulated extensive discussion and questioning, which the organizers considered a very helpful contribution to their wider endeavours to build cross-community understanding in Northern Ireland. There was a follow-up interview with a local radio station the following morning.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.presbyterianireland.org/News/Article/February-2016/Professor-Wolffe-s-Talk-Remembering-1...
 
Description The Role of Religion in Contemporary Security Challenges (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This workshop was organized by Dr Tristram-Riley in his role as Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research Impact Champion, and brought Prof Wolffe's work together with that of three other Leadership Fellows, Profs Gleave, Knott and Morey. There was widespread engagement and discussion with key policy professionals, from government, thinktanks and NGOs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Thoughtcrimes and the control of 'subversive' views: Historical and contemporary perspectives (Exeter) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This small workshop was held in collaboration with a fellow Global Uncertainties Leadership Fellow, Prof Robert Gleave of the University of Exeter. It sought to explore the ways in which alleged 'thought crimes' have been controlled historically (eg through intolerance of certain religious groups) or contemporaneously (eg through the 'Prevent' programme) and to develop constructive critiques and responses. It brought together academics and third sector practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.islamicreformulations.net/resources/Thoughtcrimes%20and%20Control.pdf
 
Description When Words Fail: Why the media must 'get religion' (Blackburn) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This activity in Blackburn Cathedral in May 2015 was a follow-up to the successful event there the previous November. Fellow panellists were Dr Jenny Taylor, founder and CEO of Lapido Media and Dr Mohammed Ilyas, a specialist researcher on Islamic extremism. The diverse audience included local media representatives and the Bishop of Blackburn. The presentations sparked lively discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.lapidomedia.com/may-counter-extremism-measures-break-muslim-hearts