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. These developments have led scholars to reconsider the role of religion in the modern world, reexamine the Eurocentric and universalist premises on which much secularization theory and the very same concept of religion had been based, and reflexively assess the secularist biases through which social scientists generally understand and explain world politics.

Religion and international relations

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Religion and international relations

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 to 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 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.

Religion and international relations

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.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.

Religion (noun): the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. In modern times, religion isn’t just the belief and worship of a supernatural entity.

It is a way of life. Since birth, children are indoctrinated into their parent’s religion. Religious concerns stand at the center of international politics, yet key paradigms in international relations, namely realism, liberalism, and constructivism, Reviews: 2.

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. 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.

Edited by Jack Snyder. Religious concerns stand at the center of international politics, yet key paradigms in international relations, namely realism, liberalism, and constructivism, barely consider religion in .

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