Religion and international relations

So argued many of the 19th-century founding fathers of the modern social sciences such as Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. This understanding of an ever more disenchanted world was increasingly challenged from the s onward by a series of events and process that modernization and secularization theories could hardly explain let alone predict. These events included the Iranian revolution ofthe rise of the Christian Right in the United States since the late s, the progressive emergence of religious fundamentalisms across most world religions, the role played by a Catholic pope in Europe and the Mujahidin in Afghanistan in the fall of Soviet Communism, a new post-Cold War security environment with its emphasis on the politics of identity, the so-called New Wars, the clash of civilization scenarios, and religious terrorism—all epitomized by the 11 September attacks—and, lastly but not least, mounting religious controversies in Europe around Christian values in the European Constitution, the hijab in schools, and enlargement to Turkey.

Religion and international relations

Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Questions center on the role of religion in peace and conflict, the compatibility of religious law and norms with different systems of government, and the influence of religious actors on a wide range of issues.

In addition, scholars must situate the practices, principles, and identities of religious individuals and communities within broader historical and geographical contexts in order to understand the critical factors informing their ethical frameworks.

There are several approaches that are attentive to interpretation, practice, and ethics, including neo-Weberianism, positive ethics, securitization theory, and a relational dialogical approach.

These approaches provide alternatives to essentialized notions of religion and shed light on why and how religious actors choose some possible courses of action over others. However, due Religion and international relations the prevalence of the secularization thesis and related Enlightenment assumptions, scholars in political science, and international relations in particular, largely ignored religion in contemporary political matters.

The break-up of the Soviet Union led international Religion and international relations scholars to turn away from the ideological contestations between capitalism and communism and look to the role of other salient factors in international relations, including that of religion.

However, the growing interest in the subject of religion and international relations is often connected to assumptions that link the religious with the magical, emotive, or barbaric—leading to specific assumptions about the propensity of religious ideologies to contribute to conflict. Such assumptions view religion as anachronistic and antimodern at best, and dangerous at worst.

Despite the trend of treating religion as inherently problematic, in recent years a number of scholars, members of civil society, and government agencies and actors have argued that religion can contribute to peace processes and broader projects of good in the world.

Such approaches, though engaging with religious doctrine and religious actors in a seemingly opposing manner, often continue to treat religion as a monolithic, stable, and easily identifiable category of analysis that incorporates a wide and complex array of religious actors, institutions, beliefs, doctrines, and practices within specific and strict boundaries.

Many scholars who subscribe to these perspectives also assert that a complete separation of the religious from the secular is extremely difficult if not impossible, necessitating an investigation into how the religious and the secular are mutually constituted.

Given the renewed interest in the role of religion in international relations, and the problems associated with treating religion as a clearly defined variable that is informed by Enlightenment assumptions, how should scholars of religion and international relations proceed?

Essentialist approaches to the study of religion and politics often view religion through the lens of doctrine—ascribing causal force to particular dogmas and norms.

In this article we argue that scholarship on religion and politics benefits by moving beyond approaches that treat religion, and given religious traditions, as discrete and reified categories of analysis.

Valuable challenges to the idea that religion is a primal and anachronistic identity are both quantitative and qualitative. Ager and Agerconversely, use qualitative methods to describe how refugees and other vulnerable populations of one religion e.

While this scholarship opened important debates, it risks being unable to account for the tensions within religious traditions, the hybridity of both religious and secular beliefs and practices, and the ethical interpretations that evolve and sometimes change radically with given historical circumstances.

As a result, scholars should approach the study of religion with reflexivity and an attention to ethics. First, scholars must be attentive to their own ontologies of religion—i. Second, scholars should examine how religious actors navigate complex ethical schemes that are influenced by historical, political, economic, geographical, and other factors, in order to understand how and why they choose particular courses of action over others.

Several approaches are attentive to ethics and interpretation, including neo-Weberianism, positive ethics, a relational dialogical approach, and securitization theory. These approaches place the primary focus on process and practice, rather than on overly selective assumptions about doctrines, sacred texts, and rituals.

This article first summarizes some of the primary ways that scholars engage with issues of religion and international relations. Next, it highlights how Enlightenment assumptions inform modern-day conceptualizations of religion and secularism and shows the ways that such approaches can promote problematic assumptions and lead to a monolithic view of religion, linking it with either conflict or peace.

Then it outlines alternative approaches to the study of religious actors that focus on the ethical frameworks on which such actors rely, situating those ethics within broader contextual—including political and economic—factors.

Religion and international relations

Finally, the article concludes by suggesting several paths forward for analyzing religions and secularisms of various kinds and by detailing conceptual and substantive issues that continue to be debated through studies employing different types of methods and approaches.

The Reemergence of Religion in the Study of International Relations Though religion was never entirely absent from the study of international relations, a renewed and strengthened focus on religious actors, movements, and traditions emerged following the end of the Cold War.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, scholars stopped looking at capitalist and Marxist ideological differences to explain political and social tensions and turned their focus to religious, ethnic, and cultural differences.

Conflicts that broke out in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and elsewhere were seen almost exclusively as conflicts between different and incommensurable religious identities, even where peoples of different religions had intermarried and lived together peacefully for years.

During this period, both religion and ethnicity e. Yet, some scholars, including Peter Bergerbegan to put the onus of problematic characterizations of religion on the assumptions underlying academic scholarship itself. As a result, the academic focus on the role of religion in international relations grew and intensified, while, at the same time, policymakers and practitioners also began to pay serious attention to the influence of religion in global affairs.

The reemergence of the study of religion in international relations prompted a wide range of discussions, questions, and debates about the role of religion in politics and approaches for studying religion. However, such scholarship often relies on assumptions that portray religion as a social element that inherently leads to tensions or outright conflict, or that religion is somehow irrational and thus inappropriate for the public sphere.

Scholars like Samuel Huntingtonprovide the most glaring example of linking religion to conflict.

Religion and international relations

In particular, Huntingtonp. Others, specifically in a special issue on religion published in Millennium Chan et. Skepticism about religion also pervaded scholarship on global studies outside of the political science discipline of international relations.

Though the essentialization of religion is disputed in international relations, assumptions about the inherent dangers or benefits of religion persist.

Such assumptions continue to gain traction in academia and elsewhere due to a particular Enlightenment narrative that not only feeds common perceptions about religion, but also other related values and principles e.

Before alternative approaches to the study of religion can be addressed, the problematic aspects of this Enlightenment narrative should be explored.Snyder argues that religion can alter the basic patterns of international relations: who the actors are, what they want, what capacities they have to attract support, and what rules they follow.

Religion and International Relations: A Primer for Research The Report of the Working Group on International Relations and Religion of the Mellon Initiative on Religion Across the Disciplines.

Religion and International Relations Theory (Religion, Culture, and Public Life) [Jack Snyder] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Religious concerns stand at the center of international politics, yet key paradigms in international relations4/5(2). Religious concerns stand at the center of international politics, yet key paradigms in international relations, namely realism, liberalism, and constructivism, Reviews: 2.

International relations (IR) or international affairs (IA) — commonly also referred to as international studies (IS), global studies (GS), or global affairs (GA) — is the study of interconnectedness of politics, economics and law on a global level.

The Program on Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations (PORDIR) explores the influence of religion and religious beliefs on international diplomacy, power politics, crisis and conflict management, and other activities of state and non-state actors.

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