Colloquium on violence and religion

Cov&r conference 2011


in history and politics

June 15-18 2011

Salina, aeolian islands

Università di Messina

Centro Europeo di Studi su Mito e Simbolo

Caravaggio, Nativity with the saints Lawrence and Francis (1609).

B. C. Hearing you, someone could take you as a defender of order.
R. G. And he would be wrong! (...) In a society without crisis, completely stabilized in the absence of violence, cannot be history.
René Girard, Achever Clausewitz

    In René Girard’s latest book, Achever Clausewitz, the continuum of disorder and order in history and politics is considered from an apocalyptic standpoint. In the case of Clausewitz facing Napoleon, the encounter between the imitator and his model turns into an escalation which inexorably propagates to the whole of Europe. At the end of his analysis, Girard comes to the conclusion that there is no difference between chaos and order any more. Neither political aims, nor objects or victims make the difference. It is only the «escalation to the extremes!» which will drive — from now on — the relationship between doubles. Can we agree with Girard that the mimetic clash between enemy brothers will eventually lead to sheer mutual destruction? This is the starting point of the Conference.
    Within the framework of current international politics, this critical issue may be further developed. Are we approaching the day when the civilizations influenced by the West will play a global role, without further need for a legitimizing model?
Hence a third group of questions, which America as well as Europe is concerned with. Will the West accept a ‘painless decline’? Or will it, rather, face a future of mimetic chaos, where more and more violence will be daily news? Can that really be the last word from the West about the mimetic roots of human culture? Of course, it is not our intention to launch some sort of pathetic call for the support of Western culture. We might rather feel challenged to prove the persistency of its roots. In the course of its own mimetic crisis, will the Western culture be able to face up to disorder and rivalry by establishing a model for creative mimesis?

The main topic of the conference: disorder/order in history and politics will be developed through four sections of study.

Europe: the land opposite.
The Mediterranean sea: what are we doing in here?
Revenge: get your own back
Realism and sacrifice in figurative arts, literature and cinema

For further information, contact:


Centro Europeo di Studi su Mito e Simbolo: 

director Domenica Mazzù

Cultural and scientific coordination of Cov&r 2011: Maria Stella Barberi

Cov&r 2011 logistic organization: Pasquale Maria Morabito & Margherita Geniale