Places of Peace and Memory: Achieving Interfaith Dialogue in Malta




Farrugia, Pete

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The attainment of meaningful dialogue between diverse faith communities is increasingly necessary in securing peace and stability, both nationally and internationally. This comes in response to processes of globalisation that continue to bring groups from different cultural and faith traditions into proximity. These processes have created opportunities for mutual enrichment, and concurrent risks of conflict escalation. The goals of interfaith dialogue fall within the larger work of cultural diplomacy, which has traditionally been concerned with cultural relations between nations and regional groups. This dissertation shall show that the aims of cultural diplomacy must expand to include programmes of ‘internal’ cultural diplomacy. These must address the presence of non-dominant cultural communities within a nation, accompanied by a reassessment of national identity. By focusing on Malta, particularly the capital city of Valletta, the dissertation explores ways in which Maltese culture has rendered certain spaces culturally inhospitable to such communities. Examining this phenomenon, the dissertation analyses Malta’s historical experience of modernity and its impact on Maltese Catholicism. This is followed by an exploration of the construal of national memory and its emplacement within the capital city, with repercussions for the remembrance and emplacement of the non-Christian in Malta’s cultural spaces. The results of this study uncover the need for Valletta, and by extension Malta, to engage dominant Catholic narratives more fully within contemporary discourses of intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Such an engagement must be accompanied by a secular commitment to the work of cultural diplomacy. Ultimately, these goals may only be achieved by a transformation of national policy strategies, acknowledging a responsibility to foster interfaith dialogue and prioritise the inclusion of diverse faith communities in Malta.



Interfaith, Cultural diplomacy, Memory, Malta