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Xenophilia, Difference, and Indifference

Abstract : In his introduction to the third installment of the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia (vol. 24, no. 1), the journal’s editor, Jeffrey M. Perl, writes about exopraxis and xenophilia, giving as an example of their convergence a Muslim student’s practice of confessing to a Catholic priest in Akko, Israel. Here, in the fourth symposium installment, Benoît Fliche joins Perl in a dialogue about the nature of Muslim exopractical experience in the Mediterranean area. Fliche suggests that one should speak, when dealing with exopraxis, not of the love of difference but of an indifference to it and supports his argument by demonstrating—based on his study of 2,600 Muslim votive messages left at the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua in Istanbul—that the logic of exopraxis depends not on hospitality, affection, syncretism, or tolerance, but on a capacity to benefit from difference without acknowledging its presence. Perl responds that, if indifference is defined as not noticing or not caring about differences, then indifference should rank higher than xenophilia in a hierarchy of irenic affects. A Muslim’s liking for Christianity could lead to conversion, and conversion presupposes that Islam and Christianity are at odds; the convert would be changing sides in an ongoing conflict. Indifference, on the other hand, presupposes that the differences between the two religions traditions are insignificant.
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Benoît Fliche, John Angell. Xenophilia, Difference, and Indifference. Common Knowledge, Duke University Press, 2018, 24 (2), pp.218-233. ⟨10.1215/0961754x-4362421⟩. ⟨hal-01989777⟩

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