Our Shared Values Initiative is a global partnership led by IAV and the Ministry of Awquaf and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman. The goal of the initiative is to study and strengthen shared global values.
This initiative grew out of a contentious global dialogue following 9/11 that is recorded in our 2005 book, The Islam/West Debate.
In 2006, Institute leader Raina Sacks Blankenhorn proposed to our Omani dialogue partners the use of photography as a way of communicating across boundaries language, religion, and nation-state. The first result was a 2009 book, Oman: Through American Eyes, featuring the work of the American photographer Edward Grazda.
The most recent fruit of this initiative is a photography exhibition now on a world tour, Three Views of Oman, curated by Raina Sacks Blankenhorn, and a companion book, also entitled Three Views of Oman and edited by Raina Sacks Blankenhorn.
The exhibition and book feature the work of three English-speaking photographers – the Britons Wilfred Thesiger and Charles Butts and the American Edward Grazda – whose visits to Oman cover the period 1945-2006.
The Syrian scholar Radwan Ziadeh calls Three Views of Oman
a great example of the dialogue of cultures. Rather than repeating the Orientalist approach that has weakened so many Western studies of Arab societies, this project builds a new bridge between two civilizations with different histories but shared values.
Three Views of Oman was most recently on display at the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery at Cooper Union in New York City. You can view comments by Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Salimi, Editor-in-Chief, Al-Tafahom, Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman; Ambassador Lyutha Al-Muhairy, Permanent Representative of the Oman Mission to the U.N.; and Aisha Mazin Stoby, Art Historian and Curator.
To learn more about our work on shared values, you can read a 2011 lecture by our distinguished Omani dialogue partner, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Salimi, "Belief and Righteous Work: An Open Vision on a New World" . . . and you can watch our March 2011 conversation, "The Arab Protest: Sustainable Democracy or Outburst?"
Each year, beginning in 2005, our Omani partners have also welcomed an IAV-affiliated scholar to deliver lectures in Oman on timely Islam/West topics of their choosing, culminating each year in a lecture presented in the Grand Mosque in Muscat.
To get the flavor of these experiences, you can read Institute Board chairman William Galston's lecture, "The American Understanding of Religious Liberty". . . and read James Turner Johnson's lecture, "The Vigorous Presence of Religion in a Religiously Pluralistic Society" . . . and read John Kelsay's lecture, "Just War Tradition, Ahkam al-jihad, and Political Decision-Making" . . . and read David Blankenhorn's 2005 inaugural lecture, "The Clash of Civilizations or Global Civil Society?"
The current focus of our Shared Values Initiative is a conference series leading to global multi-media outreach on the topic of global civil society and shared values.
View the exhibition Three Views of Oman: Society and Religion, 1945-2006