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  • Author: Manlio Graziano
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Religions are reemerging in the social, political, and economic spheres previously occupied and dominated by secular institutions and ideologies. In the wake of crises exposing the limits of secular modernity, religions have again become significant players in domestic and international politics. At the same time, the Catholic Church has sought a "holy alliance" among the world's faiths to recentralize devout influence, an important, albeit little-noticed, evolution in international relations. Holy Wars and Holy Alliance explores the nation-state's current crisis in order to better understand the religious resurgence's implications for geopolitics. Manlio Graziano looks at how the Catholic Church promotes dialogue and action linking world religions, and examines how it has used its material, financial, and institutional strength to gain power and increase its profile in present-day international politics. Challenging the idea that modernity is tied to progress and secularization, Graziano documents the "return" or the "revenge" of God in all facets of life. He shows that tolerance, pluralism, democracy, and science have not triumphed as once predicted. To fully grasp the destabilizing dynamics at work today, he argues, we must appreciate the nature of religious struggles and political holy wars now unfolding across the international stage.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231543910
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Hari Sastry
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: The world we live in today is more interconnected than ever before—though we may not share soil or language, religion or currency, we are neighbors in this global community. Together, we face challenges that are more complex than any we have ever encountered: violent extremism that threatens our core values of democracy, equality, and freedom; conflicts and natural disasters that devastate and displace; diseases that unroll in waves across entire regions.
  • Topic: Democratization, Globalization, Religion, International Affairs, Freedom of Expression
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Abdisaid Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The growth of Salafist ideology in East Africa has challenged long established norms of tolerance and interfaith cooperation in the region. This is an outcome of a combination of external and internal factors. This includes a decades-long effort by religious foundations in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to promulgate ultraconservative interpretations of Islam throughout East Africa’s mosques, madrassas, and Muslim youth and cultural centers. Rooted within a particular Arab cultural identity, this ideology has fostered more exclusive and polarizing religious relations in the region, which has contributed to an increase in violent attacks. These tensions have been amplified by socioeconomic differences and often heavy-handed government responses that are perceived to punish entire communities for the actions of a few. Redressing these challenges will require sustained strategies to rebuild tolerance and solidarity domestically as well as curb the external influence of extremist ideology and actors.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Violent Extremism, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Islamic State (IS) is often identified as the world’s leading proponent of Salafism, or fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But, as Dr. Jacob Olidort points out, most of the world’s Salafis are not violent or politically active -- in fact, they explicitly condemn both. In this illuminating video presentation, Institute Soref Fellow Olidort provides an introduction to Salafi thought, describes the emergence of the Salafi movement, and deconstructs the Salafism of IS. This is essential viewing for anyone interested in the ideological roots of IS and how it diverges from other Islamist groups. Dr. Jacob Olidort, an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, received his BA in Middle Eastern studies from Brandeis University, his AM in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University, and his MA and PhD in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. Dr. Olidort has spent nearly two years in the Middle East, including a Fulbright Scholarship in the UAE and field work on Salafism in Jordan. He has given presentations and has briefed on Salafism and on countering violent extremism to various academic and policy settings. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, the National Interest, and Lawfare, among other publications.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Salafism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alexander Henley
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanese religious leaders are often treated as authentic representatives of their sects and are given broad powers over religious affairs. However, their leadership is not organic, nor are they necessarily popular, as these individuals are trained and selected by elite institutions. These figures do not incite sectarian hatred, and even aim to reduce it, but the way they are empowered and their monopoly on spiritual matters inhibit social integration among various religious communities and reinforce sectarian divisions.
  • Topic: Religion, Sectarianism, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Lebanon
  • Author: Zachary Abuza
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Since early-2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made gradual inroads into Southeast Asia. There are an estimated 500 Southeast Asians, not including family and kin, in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS, as well as al-Nusra, which at first attracted far more Southeast Asians. Since August 2014, there has been a company of Bahasa-speaking Southeast Asians, Katibah Nusantara, within ISIS. The numbers have remained low only because of proactive policies from regional security forces, who are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when they turned a blind eye to returning veterans of the Afghan mujahideen. As an Indonesian counter-terrorism official put it, “We have experience [of those who committed terrorist acts in Indonesia] after going to Afghanistan and the Philippines and we don’t want ISIS alumni to do the same.”1 Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore have all detained people for involvement in ISIS or prevented them from traveling abroad. Jihadists from around the region, including the co-founder of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Bakar Ba’asyir,2 as well as Philippine groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, have pledged bai’at to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) caliphate. There have been a number of children of JI members to join IS, including the sons of Bali bombers Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, while the sons of senior JI members, Mukhliansyah and Abu Jibril, have joined al-Nusra.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens, male and female, are travelling to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL or ISIS). Prompted in part by political marginalisation and bleak economic prospects that characterise their post-Soviet region, 2,000-4,000 have in the past three years turned their back on their secular states to seek a radical alternative. IS beckons not only to those who seek combat experience, but also to those who envision a more devout, purposeful, fundamentalist religious life. This presents a complex problem to the governments of Central Asia. They are tempted to exploit the phenomenon to crack down on dissent. The more promising solution, however, requires addressing multiple political and administrative failures, revising discriminatory laws and policies, implementing outreach programs for both men and women and creating jobs at home for disadvantaged youths, as well as ensuring better coordination between security services.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Aaron Rock-Singer
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Religion was a pillar of pre-modern political identity in the Middle East, arising out of Muslims’ understanding of Islam’s foundational moment and state institutions that developed with the spread of Islamic Empire. Beginning at the turn of the 19th century, European colonial powers and indigenous reformers questioned the centrality of religious identity; instead, it was to be the nation that defined the political community. Since then, the nationalist project has permeated 20th century ideological conflicts in the region, equally shaping the claims of secularists and Islamists. Today, advocates of religious change refer back to early Islamic history as they seek to place religious over national identity, yet they, like their competitors, are unmistakably shaped by the secular nationalist project.
  • Topic: Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lev Weitz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The majority of the Middle East’s population today is Muslim, as it has been for centuries. However, as the place of origin of a range of world religions – including Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and many lesser-known faiths – it remains a region of remarkable religious diversity. This article considers the place of religious minorities in the modern Middle East from three angles: their distinctive religious and communal identities, their place in the major transformations of the region’s political landscape from the nineteenth century to the post-World War I era, and the challenges of contemporary political conditions.
  • Topic: Demographics, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: We live in an age of identity politics. We define ourselves by one or more objective measures: measures of race, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, sexual orientation, to name just a few. Those measures then define who we are to others. They determine our place in society, the communities with which we identify, our attitudes towards others and other communities. The politics of identity are fraught, and they interact in ways that both liberate and confine. On the one hand we prize diversity. On the whole, this is a good thing, since it reflects a larger transformation in American life. Like it or not, the fact is that we are becoming, have become, a “multi-cultural society.” No matter what terms we use to define diversity—racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, gender, whatever—we are more diverse now than we have ever been, and we are destined to grow more so. Multi-culturalism is not an option; it is the future. The only question is how, and how well, we are going to deal with it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Defining – and distinguishing between – the terms Islam and Islamism has broad consequences for America, both domestically and internationally. However, teaching about the relationship between these two concepts involves negotiating numerous sensitivities and it can cause considerable consternation for educators. At the most basic level, Islam is a major world religion practiced by well over a billion people, and Islamism is a political ideology to which a subset of the broader Islamic community adheres. The importance of this distinction seems fairly clear. The United States, and the American body politic more generally, views itself as committed to secular governance and religious freedom. While Islam is not completely immune from criticism, Americans have traditionally objected to state interference in religious matters and, theoretically, they should expect the same standards to apply to Islam. Therefore, Islam as a religion would seem to have a clear place in the diverse fabric of American society. Islamism, as a political ideology, opens itself to harsher critiques and even questions about its appropriateness in, or compatibility with, the American political system. Unsurprisingly, American public discourse suggests that Americans generally feel much more comfortable with Islam than they do with Islamism.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Economy, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Aram Nerguizian
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Lebanon has been a chronic US foreign policy challenge in the Levant since the Eisenhower Administration. However, given the country's centrality to regional security politics and Iran's support for the Shi'a militant group Hezbollah, the US cannot avoid looking at Lebanon as yet another arena of competition with Iran in the broader Levant.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although President Rouhani has persuaded the Supreme Leader to adjust the IRGC's economic functions, he has not challenged its role in shaping Iran's nuclear policy. President Hassan Rouhani's relationship with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a central dynamic in the country's politics and economy. As always, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ultimately determines the roles of the president and the IRGC, so Rouhani has sought to pursue his economic imperatives without crossing the Supreme Leader or the military elite on the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Low Salafist turnout for this week's constitutional referendum could signal a broad base of support for growing jihadist violence against the post-Morsi government. The January 14-15 referendum on Egypt's draft constitution is being billed as a referendum on the military's July 3 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Morsi. Yet the vote is unlikely to alter the country's short-term political trajectory: no matter the results, the military-backed government will continue repressing pro-Morsi forces, who will in turn continue resisting a process they view as illegitimate. The extent to which Salafists participate in the referendum may have longer-term implications, however. High Salafist turnout would suggest an embrace of the Nour Party's decision to participate in the post-Morsi process, whereas low turnout would reflect strong feelings of disenfranchisement that could lead more Salafists to embrace jihadism.
  • Topic: Religion, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Tehran worries about internal threats from Salafi jihadists, it may well cooperate with such groups if they attack Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, North America
  • Author: Habib Sayah
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Tunisia's Islamists reaffirm their cohesiveness, the country's contentious politics have worn out many voters and dulled their interest in democratic participation, making abstention the most likely winner of this year's elections. Last week, 39,000 members of Tunisia's leading Islamist faction, Ennahda, took part in an internal referendum to decide whether to postpone their next national congress, where a new party executive board is typically chosen. More than 70 percent of the members agreed to maintain the party's cohesiveness in order to focus on winning the next round of legislative elections rather than risk exposing internal divisions. In contrast, the various parties in the secular opposition remain disorganized and divided by their ambitions -- months after helping to pressure the Ennahda-led governing coalition out of office and agreeing to a transitional roadmap, they are unable to unite, whether against their Islamist adversary or around a common political project. More important, Islamists and secularists alike face an uphill battle in convincing increasingly skeptical Tunisian voters that they are serious about addressing the country's social, economic, and security concerns instead of squabbling with each other.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Power Politics, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The thorny parliamentary process of selecting a new president could rekindle violence if it results in substantial delays or further sectarian friction. Last week, Lebanon's parliament convened for the first round of balloting to elect a new president. While Samir Geagea -- who leads the Christian "Lebanese Forces" party, which is aligned with the pro-Western March 14 coalition -- received the most votes, he failed to secure the requisite two-thirds parliamentary support. In the coming weeks, legislators are slated to continue meeting until a president is selected. Unlike last week's session, in which the Hezbollah-led March 8 bloc did not challenge Geagea's candidacy, the voting promises to become increasingly contentious in subsequent rounds. Perennial sectarian tensions exacerbated by the war next door in Syria have complicated the historically wrought and arcane election process. Should a compromise candidate not emerge by May 25, the term of current president Michel Suleiman will expire, leaving the post vacant. In the past, the presidency -- which by law must be held by a Christian -- was the dominant office in Lebanon's government. But the 1989 Taif Accord effectively stripped the position of its powers, delegating them to the prime minister, who must hail from the Sunni Muslim constituency. Given the post's largely symbolic nature, some might argue that the tense selection process is much ado about nothing. Yet the presidency remains an emotionally evocative issue for Lebanese Christians, and both the March 8 and March 14 blocs see a sympathetic chief executive as an important advantage worth fighting for.
  • Topic: Religion, Power Politics, Regime Change, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Haroon Ullah, Eric Trager, Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A senior State Department advisor and two Washington Institute scholars discuss what lessons can -- and cannot -- be drawn from the Islamist political experience in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and other countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Andrew Engel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Long-simmering tensions between non-Islamist and Islamist forces have boiled over into military actions centered around Benghazi and Tripoli, entrenching the country's rival alliances and bringing them ever closer to civil war. On May 16, former Libyan army general Khalifa Haftar launched "Operation Dignity of Libya" in Benghazi, aiming to "cleanse the city of terrorists." The move came three months after he announced the overthrow of the government but failed to act on his proclamation. Since Friday, however, army units loyal to Haftar have actively defied armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Salem al-Obeidi, who called the operation "a coup." And on Monday, sympathetic forces based in Zintan extended the operation to Tripoli. These and other developments are edging the country closer to civil war, complicating U.S. efforts to stabilize post-Qadhafi Libya.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Religion, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Libya, Tripoli
  • Author: Anastasiya Hozyainova
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A major priority for international donors since 2002 has been to promote and protect women's rights in Afghanistan. Substantial progress has been made, including much stronger formal protections for women in law. However, in practice, these legal protections are uncertain to survive the coming transition as these laws are neither universally accepted within Afghanistan nor evenly applied.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, Religion, Social Movement, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Alexey Malashenko, Aziz Niyazi
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Emomali Rahmon's reelection as president of Tajikistan in 2013 testifies to his regime's stability and its capacity for self-preservation. He now faces a number of complex tasks, which include undertaking economic reforms, counteracting religious smism, and resolving conflicts with neighboring countries. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a high degree of stability under these conditions.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Religion, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Tajikistan
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The situation in Rakhine State contains a toxic mixture of historical centre-periphery tensions, serious intercommunal and inter-religious conflict with minority Muslim communities, and extreme poverty and under-development. This led to major violence in 2012 and further sporadic outbreaks since then. The political temperature is high, and likely to increase as Myanmar moves closer to national elections at the end of 2015. It represents a significant threat to the overall success of the transition, and has severely damaged the reputation of the government when it most needs international support and investment. Any policy approach must start from the recognition that there will be no easy fixes or quick solutions. The problems faced by Rakhine State are rooted in decades of armed violence, authoritarian rule and state-society conflict. This crisis has affected the whole of the state and all communities within it. It requires a sustained and multi-pronged response, as well as critical humanitarian and protection interventions in the interim.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Post Colonialism, Religion, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is no one way to measure the level of security and stability in given countries, the conditions of life, or the rising threat posed by internal; and domestic terrorism. This analysis provides a wide range of metrics from reporting by the World Bank, UN, and US government. It focuses on trends and it will be immediately clear to the reader that it does not always reflect the shattering impact of the violence and upheavals that have taken place in some countries since 2011.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, International Security, Governance
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: On the occasion of the Annual Summit of the Strategic Studies Network (Bangkok, 23-25 February 2014), several EuroMeSCo researchers participated in the kick off meeting of the Working Group “The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective”. This group, lead by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) will involve over 20 EuroMeSCo researchers, who will work throughout the year with the aim of publishing a joint volume on comparative perspectives of the transitions in the Arab world. The Working Group is structured around two main blocks: “Internal changes in transition processes: What priorities?” and “External actors and regional integration”. It consists of a total of 6 working packages, each of them lead by two EuroMeSCo researchers. The topics to be explored are: State building processes and reforms, security sector reform, the role of religion in transitional processes, socio-economic reforms, the role of the European Union in supporting democratic transitions in the Southern Mediterranean and regional integration.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Economies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The workshop "Democracies in the Making: Egypt at the Center of Arab Transitions" focused on the analysis of the current phase of the democractic transition in Egypt, dominated by a high level of polarisation. It was organised by EuroMeSco, the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). This was the last of a series of four workshops organised in the framework of a programme to strengthen the capacities of think tanks and research institutes in Mediterranean countries, mainly in light of the current democratisation processes and regional transformations.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Dr. Don M. Snider, Col. Alexander P. Shine
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The authors argue that an urgent leadership issue has arisen which is strongly, but not favorably, influencing our professional culture--a hostility toward religion and its correct expressions within the military. Setting aside the role of Chaplains as a separate issue, the focus here is on the role religion may play in the moral character of individual soldiers--especially leaders--and how their personal morality, faith-based or not, is to be integrated with their profession's ethic so they can serve in all cases "without reservation" as their oath requires.
  • Topic: Religion, Political Theory, Military Affairs, Ethics
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Josef Hien
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: For centuries, churches were the main institutional providers of welfare in Europe before the state took over this role in the late 19th century. The influence of modernization theory meant that modern welfare state theorists increasingly regarded religion and its impact on welfare as a relic from the distant past. It was anticipated that modern, differentiated, and industrialized societies would see the decline and inevitable disappearance of religious welfare provision along with religiosity. Surprisingly, however, at the beginning of the 21st century in many modern industrialized societies, religious institutions are increasingly becoming involved in welfare provision again. The religion blind classic welfare state literature offers no explanation for this phenomenon. This present paper argues that the resurgence of faith-based welfare providers is the reversal of a phenomenon that occurred in the late 19th century when modern states started to strip religious providers of their prerogatives in welfare provision. The result was the ascendance of the modern state and the demise of religion in the late 19th century. The return of welfare to religious providers can therefore be interpreted as the beginning of the demise of the modern state.
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Non-Governmental Organization, Religion, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Nadia Helmy
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: In the past three decades, Chinese Iranian and Middle East Studies have become more and more systematic, which is reflected not only in the great volume of publication, but also in the varied research methodologies and the increase in Iranian and Middle East academic journals. The development of Chinese Middle East studies have accelerated in particular after Arab Spring revolutions and the political changes in the Middle East (2000- 2013). Research institutes evolved from state-controlled propaganda offices into multi-dimensional academic and non-academic entities, including universities, research institutes, military institutions, government offices, overseas embassies and mass media. At the same time, publications evolved from providing an introduction and overview of Iran and Middle Eastern states to in-depth studies of Middle East politics and economics in three stages: beginnings (1949- 1978), growth (1979- 1999), and dealing with energy, religion, culture, society and security. The Middle East-related research programs' funding provided by provincial, ministerial and national authorities have increased and the quality of research has greatly improved. And finally, China has established, as well as joined, various academic institutions and NGOs, such as the Chinese Middle East Studies Association (CMESA), the Asian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) and the Arabic Literature Studies Association (ALSA). However, Chinese Middle East Studies remain underdeveloped, both in comparison with China's American, European, and Japanese studies at home, and with Middle East studies in the West.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Government, Politics, Religion, Culture, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, America, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Tahereh Hadian
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research
  • Abstract: This article explores Iranian women's identities reflected in documentary films made during the post revolution era. By doing so, it draws attention to the complexities of representation with regard to the position of women and the current cultural policies in Iran from a legal, religious, and traditional point of view. The documentary films are divided into two categories: those made by Iranians residing in Iran and those made by the Diaspora documentary filmmakers, we then examine and compare their content and themes. This will in turn demonstrate the relationship between the two groups of Iranian documentary film makers and the subjects they address. The selected documentaries made in Iran for this study are sponsored by the state, through the Experimental and Documentary Film Centre (DEFC). This essay will analyze the way the two categories of documentary films [by state and Diaspora] address women's issues through the themes they cover, their agendas, as well as the adopted aesthetics. These documentary films show the social empowerment of Iranian women as active agents in a society that sets obstacles in women's paths. The comparison of the two categories of documentary films may thus show the relation between Iranians residing in Iran and those in the Diaspora, which can play a role in Iran's position internationally. This research looks into three films: Mokarrameh, Article 61 and Divorce, Iranian Style. It will also assess their content and character, and explain what each documentary reflects regarding women's status in society in that particular era with respect to its theme i.e. law, tradition and religion.
  • Topic: Religion, Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Elazar Barkan
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: This anthology explores the dynamics of shared religious sites in Turkey, the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, and Algeria, indicating where local and national stakeholders maneuver between competition and cooperation, coexistence and conflict. Contributors probe the notion of coexistence and the logic that underlies centuries of "sharing," exploring when and why sharing gets interrupted--or not--by conflict, and the policy consequences. These essays map the choreographies of shared sacred spaces within the framework of state-society relations, juxtaposing a site's political and religious features and exploring whether sharing or contestation is primarily religious or politically motivated. Although religion and politics are intertwined phenomena, the contributors to this volume understand the category of "religion" and the "political" as devices meant to distinguish between the theological and confessional aspects of religion and the political goals of groups. Their comparative approach better represents the transition in some cases of sites into places of hatred and violence, while in other instances they remain noncontroversial. The essays clearly delineate the religious and political factors that contribute to the context and causality of conflict at these sites and draw on history and anthropology to shed light on the often rapid switch from relative tolerance to distress to peace and calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Religion, International Affairs, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231169943
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Morten Bøås
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Political instability and administrative weakness have been permanent features of the Central African Republic (CAR) ever since independence. This is, therefore, the history of a collapse foretold. Michel Djotodia may have had good intentions when he put together the Séléka alliance; the problem was that the only thing that kept it together was the desire to get rid of François Bozizé. When Bozizé was gone, the coalition's internal coherence also disappeared. Thus, for lack of other options, the alliance members continued to make their livelihoods based on plunder. As the situation worsened, the communities plundered established their own militias, and the stage was set for a simmering sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims. It is in this mess of communal violence that the international forces are supposed to re-establish law and order. The main challenge, however, is how to avoid adding fuel to the sectarian fire. The international forces must tread carefully, and any attempt at disarming militias must be conducted with this in mind. What has happened and is happening is tragic, but it is neither genocide nor a full-blown sectarian conflict. This can still be avoided if the international forces behave impartially with regard to the two main religious communities in the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, Religion, Sectarian violence, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Palwasha L. Kakar
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the economic, security and political transitions take place in Afghanistan, it is essential to work with religious leaders who have credibility and moral authority among large segments of the Afghan public. Religious leaders are among Afghanistan's traditional "gatekeepers" for making local decisions, especially on questions of women's rights, and they can be effectively engaged. Despite the very negative reactions by religious leaders to women's rights at the national political level, some at the local level have shown continuing interest in women's rights when they are involved within an Islamic framework and have participated in protecting such rights. Effective engagement with religious leaders starts with respecting their opinions and involving them directly in processes of changing strongly held social norms on women's rights and other sensitive topics, such as tolerance and peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa
  • Author: Matthew J. Walton, Susan Hayward.
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For the past few years, Myanmar's political transition has been hampered by violence between Buddhists and Muslims. A nation with an ethnically Burman and religiously Buddhist majority, the population also comprises a large minority of Muslims and members of other religions, and includes many different ethnic groups. As such, Myanmar society is complex and innately plural.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: Arif Rafiq
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sectarian violence between Sunni Deobandi and Shia Muslims in Pakistan has escalated in recent years. Most of this violence is perpetrated by local networks, but the sectarian phenomenon also has important ties to regional security dynamics and transnational terrorist networks. Despite sporadic state crackdowns, Pakistan's leading Sunni Deobandi sectarian militant groups have been able to maintain a persistent presence thanks in part to reluctance among mainstream Pakistani military and political leaders to directly confront groups that are sometimes seen as serving utilitarian political interests. Despite this negligence, Sunni Deobandi militants have also established linkages with terrorist groups that target the Pakistani state, such as al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Rising conflict in the greater Middle East over the past five years has strengthened the sectarian political narrative in Pakistan and emboldened sectarian militant networks on both sides of the conflict.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Winter 2013–2014 issue of The Objective Standard. Here's an indication of the contents at hand. The increasing popularity of libertarianism is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because, although nominally for liberty, the ideology rejects the need to undergird liberty with an objective, demonstrably true moral and philosophic foundation—which leaves liberty indefensible against the many philosophies that oppose it (e.g., utilitarianism, altruism, egalitarianism, and religion). The increasing popularity of libertarianism is an opportunity because, although the ideology denies the need for such a foundation, many young people who self-identify as libertarian are active-minded and thus open to the possibility that such a foundation is necessary. Toward reaching these active-minded youth, my essay, “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism,” examines libertarianism in the spirit of Frédéric Bastiat, taking into account not only what is seen, but also what is not seen in common and seemingly unobjectionable descriptions of the ideology. The article exposes major problems with libertarianism, compares it to radical capitalism, shows why only the latter provides a viable defense of liberty, and emphasizes the need to keep these different ideologies conceptually distinct.
  • Topic: Education, Religion
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Cathrine Thorleifsson
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines the paradox of Mizrahim (Arab Jews) supporting right-wing Israeli policies through a case study of the border town of Kiryat Shemona. Based on ethnographic research, it illuminates the enduring power of ethno-nationalism and demonstrates how it affects Mizrahi lives. Mizrahim became trapped by Israeli nation-building on the geographic and socioeconomic margins of the state positioned between the dominant Ashkenazi elite and the Palestinian population. Factors such as Mizrahim's partial inclusion in the nation; tensions between Jews and Arabs, and between the secular and the religious; the decline of the welfare state; and a shared perception of threats and dangers informed everyday nationalism in the town. Mizrahim contested Ashkenazi Israeliness through ethnic and transnational identifications and practices. Simultaneously, their support for the nation-in-arms and identification as "strong"and "civilised" reinforced the dominant logic of ethno-nationalism. Mizrahi support for right-wing militarism is likely to persist as long as national unity is used as a colonial practice by the centre. The inclusion of Mizrahim as equals together with other marginalised citizens would necessarily entail an Israeli Spring.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Nationalism, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 2006, during the heart of the Global War on Terrorism, a New York Times reporter went to Washington in an attempt to ascertain the extent that American officials understood the ideologies underpinning Islamist terrorism. The reporter began with a simple question: could senior counterterrorism officials identify which groups were Sunnis and which were Shi'is? Remarkably senior officials and lawmakers – including the Chief of the F.B.I.‟s national security branch, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives‟ committees on intelligence and counter terrorism – had “no clue” whether actors such as Iran, Hezbollah, or al-Qaida were Sunnis or Shi„is. A number of questions emerged from this encounter. First, who are the Sunnis and Shi„is? Second, where are they located? And, finally, does it matter?
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Alexander De Juan
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Institutions can contribute to regulating interethnic conflict; however, in many cases they fail to bring about lasting peace. The paper argues that their negligence of intraethnic factors accounts for some of this failure. Ethnic groups are often treated as unitary actors even though most consist of various linguistic, tribal or religious subgroups. This internal heterogeneity is often obscured by overarching collective ethnic identities that are fostered by interethnic conflict. However, when such interethnic conflict is settled, these subgroup differences may come back to the fore. This “resurgence” can lead to subgroup conflict about the political and economic resources provided through intergroup institutional settlements. Such conflict can in turn undermine the peace-making effect of intergroup arrangements. Different subgroup identity constellations make such destructive effects more or less likely. The paper focuses on self-government provisions in the aftermath of violent interethnic conflict and argues that lasting intergroup arrangements are especially challenging when they involve “contested” ethnic groups.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq
  • Author: Andrew Walker
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. Since August 2011 Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public or in churches in Nigeria's northeast. The group has also broadened its targets to include setting fire to schools. In March 2012, some twelve public schools in Maiduguri were burned down during the night, and as many as 10,000 pupils were forced out of education. Boko Haram is not in the same global jihadist bracket as Algeria's al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or Somalia's al Shabab. Despite its successful attack on the UN compound in Abuja in August 2011, Boko Haram is not bent on attacking Western interests. There have been no further attacks on international interests since that time. Following the failed rescue of hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in north¬eastern Nigeria in March 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan played up the connections between the group and international terrorism. However, links between Boko Haram and the kidnappers are questionable. It is difficult to see how there can be meaningful dialogue between the government and the group. The group's cell-like structure is open for factions and splits, and there would be no guarantee that someone speaking for the group is speaking for all of the members. Tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consis-tently brutal and counterproductive. Their reliance on extrajudicial execution as a tactic in “dealing” with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand. The group will continue to attack softer targets in the northeast rather than international targets inside or outside Nigeria. It is also likely to become increasingly involved in the Jos crisis, where it will attack Christian indigenes of the north and try to push them out. Such a move would further threaten to destabilize the country's stability and unity.Now that the group has expanded beyond a small number of mosques, radical reforms in policing strategy are necessary if there is to be any progress in countering the group. Wide¬spread radical reform of the police is also long overdue throughout Nigeria. As a first step, jailing a number of police officers responsible for ordering human rights abuses might go some way to removing a key objection of the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Religion, United Nations, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Liora Danan, Joy Aoun, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon, Denise St. Peter
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The top headlines of the past year have made increasingly clear to U.S. government officials the central—but complicated—roles that religion plays in many of the most strategically important engagements of the United States.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, India
  • Author: Mariam Mufti
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The importance of studying the rise of Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be overemphasized. First, both Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced serious threats from radical Islamic groups. In Afghanistan, coalition forces led by the United States were successful in overthrowing the Taliban regime after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but since then there has been a resurgence in violence that is being perpetrated by a combination of the Taliban who have regrouped, the Haqqani Network (HQN) and Hizb-e-Islami (HiG). Foreign groups such as al Qaeda are also implicated in the violence. In Pakistan, most of the militant activity has occurred in the frontier region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as the FATA. But other parts of Pakistan, especially Punjab, have also been subject to bomb attacks. These attacks have not only targeted Pakistanis but also foreigners, including U.S. government facilities.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Susan Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The field of religious peacebuilding has begun to move closer to the mainstream of conflict resolution practice and theory. The 2011 unrest in the Middle East and North Africa—the Arab Spring—reflects ongoing challenges and opportunities for the field. American and European nongovernmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. government, academia, and international organizations—sectors that once held religious issues at a distance or understood religion mainly as a driver of violence—increasingly engage religious communities and institutions as partners in creating peace. Meanwhile, religious organizations that have been involved in creating peace for decades, if not longer, increasingly have institutionalized and professionalized their work, suggesting ways that religious and secular organizations could coordinate their efforts more closely. The U.S. Institute of Peace's own programs on religion reflect the development of the wider field, having moved from research and analysis to on-the-ground programming to foster interfaith dialogue in the Balkans, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan. In addition, it has trained religious actors in conflict management in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Colombia and developed peace curricula based on Islamic principles for religious and secular schools in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As the U.S. field of religious peacebuilding continues to develop, challenges include integrating further with secular peacebuilding efforts, engaging women and youth and addressing their priorities, working more effectively with non-Abrahamic religious traditions, and improving evaluation, both to show how religious peacebuilding can reduce and resolve conflict and to strengthen the field's ability to do so.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Alistair MacDonald, Gabriel Munuera Viñals
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The confrontation between Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Western Mindanao, between the 'Moros' and the Philippine State, belongs to that category of 'forgotten conflicts' of which most international relations practitioners are often only vaguely aware. The conflict has historical roots that reach back centuries and has evolved with many twists and turns, culminating in an equally long and no less convoluted peace process. However, this conflict has important international ramifications and is one in which the international community is today actively involved, with facilitating and monitoring mechanisms involving states as well as non-state actors. In particular the European Union has been playing an increasingly important role, including in relation to diplomatic efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution to the conflict, based on its holistic approach to crises and interaction with European NGOs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Israel, Philippines, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Eduardo Posada-Carbó
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: By focusing on its electoral role, this paper revises some of the prevailing views regarding the Catholic Church's impact on the politics of Colombia between 1830 and 1930. To this aim, the paper offers a brief general overview of the Church during the period, in an attempt to locate its sources of power. Then, I look at the place the religious cleavage had in the formation of the party system that emerged in the republic by the mid-nineteenth century. Next, I examine the various ways in which the Church was involved in the electoral process both before and after the emergence of the party system. Finally, the concluding section considers the wider implications that such involvement might have represented for the history of democracy in Colombia. Overall, the paper addresses the following questions: What had the historical role of the Catholic Church been in the politics of Colombia since independence? How did the Church—the hierarchy, the clergy and the laity—relate to the electoral history and partisan divisions of the country? And to what extent did the involvement of the Church in electioneering enhance or hinder the process of democratization over this century?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Michael Phillips
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre on Human Rights in Conflict
  • Abstract: The parable of Jesus walking on water occurs in three of the gospels. This parable was used by Imanol Zubero, former Socialist Senator and Basque peace activist, now Professor at the Basque Country University, to describe to me the position of the Catholic Church in Spain today: where once the Church had known how to walk on water and call to the Spanish people to follow it, today the Church has lost its prophetic voice and is in danger of becoming a closed sect. Zubero was referring to the 1970s when the Church played a positive, and widely admired, role in the Spanish Transition to democracy. In this paper I try to account for this change by considering cases from two very different Catholic traditions, Spain and Australia, which have at least one thing in common: in both cases the Church has been accused of responsibility for historical wrong-doing and complicity in human rights abuses.
  • Topic: Civil War, Human Rights, Religion, History, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, Australia/Pacific
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: On June 29th 2012, the United Nations Security Coun¬cil welcomed the Secretary General's 'Regional Strat¬egy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army' ('UN Regional Strategy' or 'Strategy').1 The Strategy was well received by lo¬cal and international civil society organizations as an ambitious framework with the elements of a compre¬hensive response. Then, as now, the message was clear – if fully implemented, the Strategy could resolve this devastating 26-year conflict and pave the way for the long-term recovery of the affected region and its people.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare, Religion, Armed Struggle, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations
  • Author: Thomas Liles
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: While Adjara's Islamic identity has been in decline, the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) has increased its presence in Adjara's capital Batumi and western lowlands since the 1990s. Today Islam retains a strong presence primarily in the republic's eastern highlands (upper Adjara), specifically in the Khulo district and to a lesser extent in the more rural areas of the Shuakhevi and Keda districts. With financial support from the state, the GOC maintains a growing presence in upper Adjara, and conversions to Christianity in the area are becoming more common. Simultaneously, certain segments of the region's Muslim population express dissatisfaction with perceived state discrimination, mainly resulting from the lack of state funding for local Islamic institutions and the difficulties of legally registering such institutions. With the creation of the new Administration of Georgian Muslims (AGM) in May 2011 and the passage of a new law on the registration of minority religious groups in July 2011, this discontent may well subside. However, it is still too early to tell whether these laws will have a significant effect in upper Adjara.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Minorities
  • Political Geography: Europe, Georgia
  • Author: Qamar ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The recent desecration of the Koran and Islamic writings caused violent unrest in Afghanistan and raises concerns about essential training in culture and religion for U.S. personnel. Basic knowledge of religious actors and their roles in peacebuilding and conflict management is still barely factored in by policymakers and advisers to U.S. government. There needs more effort by local, regional, and international religious leaders to promote nonviolent and tolerant reactions even in midst of incendiary events. An assessment is needed to evaluate whether efforts at promoting inter-cultural sensitivity are working or not, and identifying processes for mitigating tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Religion, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech and Secretary Clinton's 2012 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace persuasively argued for policies that promote international religious freedom (IRF), including links to national security, economic development, and democracy promotion, and as an antidote to religious extremism and terrorism. Unfortunately, current IRF policy--in place since 1998 and largely built around the threat of economic sanctions which no administration has been willing to use--is not up to the challenges or the opportunities that President Obama and Secretary Clinton so eloquently identified. To correct that, the White House needs to embrace a leadership role, building an infrastructure and providing the necessary resources for a reinvigorated policy of new tools and strategies to thrive. The need is pressing.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Matthias Basedau, Johannes Vüllers, Georg Strüver
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the religious diversity in sub–Saharan Africa and the religious overtones in a number of African conflicts, social science research has inadequately addressed the question of how and to what extent religion matters for conflict in Africa. This paper presents an innovative data inventory on religion and violent conflict in all sub–Saharan countries for the period 1990–2008 that seeks to contribute to filling the gap. The data underscore that religion has to be accounted for in conflict in Africa. Moreover, results show the multidimensionality (e.g. armed conflicts with religious incompatibilities, several forms of non‐state religious violence) and ambivalence (inter‐religious networks, religious peace initiatives) of religion vis–à–vis violence. In 22 of the 48 sub–Saharan countries, religion plays a substantial role in violence, and six countries in particular—Chad, Congo‐Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda— are heavily affected by different religious aspects of violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Post Colonialism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Trond Bakkevig
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Many political conflicts have a religious dimension, as religion is at the heart of the identities of those involved. Thus, religious dialogue may be a key to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts. Nowhere is this more true than the Holy Land. But how can such a dialogue be initiated and sustained, what problems does it face, and what is the character and role of a facilitator in the process? Here, Rev. Dr. and Canon Trond Bakkevig addresses these questions by drawing on his long experience of working in the area of religious dialogue between religious leaders of Israel and Palestine.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Erich Gundlach, Matthias Opfinger
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: We find a U-shaped relation between happiness and religiosity in cross-country panel data after controlling for income levels. At a given level of income, the same level of happiness can be reached with high and low levels of religiosity, but not with intermediate levels. A rise in income causes an increase in happiness along with a decline of religiosity. Our interpretation of the empirical results is that the indifference curves for religiosity and other commodities of the utility function are hump-shaped.
  • Topic: Economics, Religion, Sociology, Culture
  • Political Geography: Albania
  • Author: Matthias Basedau, Tim Wegenast, Johannes Vüllers, Georg Strüver
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Theoretically, the “mobilization hypothesis” establishes a link between religion and conflict by arguing that religious structures such as overlapping ethnic and religious identities are prone to mobilization; once politicized, escalation to violent conflict becomes likelier. Yet, despite the religious diversity in sub-Saharan Africa and the religious overtones in a number of African armed conflicts, this assumption has not yet been backed by systematic empirical research on the religion–conflict nexus in the region. The following questions thus remain: Do religious factors significantly impact the onset of (religious) armed conflict? If so, do they follow the logic of the mobilization hypothesis and, if yes, in which way? To answer these questions, this paper draws on a unique data inventory of all sub-Saharan countries for the period 1990–2008, particularly including data on mobilization-prone religious structures (e.g. demographic changes, parallel ethno-religious identities) as well as religious factors indicating actual politicization of religion (e.g. inter-religious tensions, religious discrimination, incitement by religious leaders). Based on logit regressions, results suggest that religion indeed plays a significant role in African armed conflicts. The findings are compatible with the mobilization hypothesis: Overlaps of religious and ethnic identities and religious dominance are conflict-prone; religious polarization is conflict-prone only if combined with religious discrimination and religious tensions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Author: Johannes Vüllers
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the role of religion with regard to the violence experienced during the past 20 years in Côte d'Ivoire. It seeks to explain the differences in the level of violence over time by focusing on religion as an identity marker and as a social force that is mobilizable by religious and political actors. Religious identities were part of the growing in-/ out-group mechanism utilized in Côte d'Ivoire in the 1990s, while the political elites tried to politicize religion. In reaction to the violence and politicization, the religious elites founded an interreligious organization in the 1990s, and were successful in preventing a religious war.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) remains a deadly threat to civilians in three Central African states. After a ceasefire and negotiations for peaceful settlement of the generation-long insurgency broke down in 2008, Uganda's army botched an initial assault. In three years since, half-hearted operations have failed to stop the small, brutally effective band from killing more than 2,400 civilians, abducting more than 3,400 and causing 440,000 to flee. In 2010 President Museveni withdrew about half the troops to pursue more politically rewarding goals. Congolese mistrust hampers current operations, and an African Union (AU) initiative has been slow to start. While there is at last a chance to defeat the LRA, both robust military action and vigorous diplomacy is required. Uganda needs to take advantage of new, perhaps brief, U.S. engagement by reinvigorating the military offensive; Washington needs to press regional leaders for cooperation; above all, the AU must act promptly to live up to its responsibilities as guarantor of continental security. When it does, Uganda and the U.S. should fold their efforts into the AU initiative.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Religion, Torture, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, United States
  • Author: Karam Dana
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The perception of Muslims living in the United States has deteriorated dramatically since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. U.S.-Muslims, a group that had already faced discrimination prior to the attacks, became even more visible to the public. Non-Muslim Americans began questioning American Muslim loyalties to the United States as well as their commitment to being “good” citizens. Such doubt extended to the political arena as well, prompting intrusive inquiries into Muslim-affiliated civic and political organizations and their members. Even non-Muslims with Muslim affiliations or Muslim- sounding names or appearances have been subject to public scrutiny. For example, despite identifying as a Christian, President Barack Obama's religious affiliation has been continually doubted by some due to his Kenyan Muslim heritage and his middle name, Hussein. Though a decade has passed since the events of September 11th, the role of American Muslims, and whether they can at all be trusted, remains a popular concern and a topic of household conversation.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The ability of Pakistan's radical Islamic parties to mount limited but potentially violent opposition to the government has made democratic reform, and by extension the reduction of religious extremism and development of a more peaceful and stable society, more challenging. This is a reflection of those parties' well-organised activist base, which is committed to a narrow partisan agenda and willing to defend it through violence. While their electoral support remains limited, earlier Islamisation programs have given them a strong legal and political apparatus that enables them to influence policy far beyond their numerical strength. An analysis of party agendas and organisation, as well as other sources of influence in judicial, political and civil society institutions, is therefore vital to assessing how Pakistan's main religious parties apply pressure on government, as well as the ability and willingness of the mainstream parties that are moderate on religious issues to resist that pressure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Anna Di Lellio
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs
  • Abstract: Serbia, Kosovo, and Turkey, all European Union applicants, recognize that the possibility of European belonging as historical reality is a crucial attribute for acceptance. These countries have all built national stories rooted in the Medieval Ottoman conquest of the Western Balkans and distanced themselves from the “Orient” and from Islam. By doing so, they have engaged in a debate with a “thick,” rather than a “thin” conception of Europe; they have tried to measure up to Europe as a traditional community of values defined by its Christian character, rather than the dynamic cosmopolitan Europe of law and standards which is officially embodied by the Union. Paradoxically, the revival of these national memories not only anchors a particular configuration of national time and space for Serbs, Albanians, and Turks. It mirrors a concern with identity, very present at the core of Europe, which is often resolved through the affirmation of an allegedly authentic and coherent European Christian tradition.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nationalism, Religion, History
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Turkey, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans
  • Author: Matthew Sundquist
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: A Fulbright Scholar discovers the pathologies and injustices of a higher education system once considered the "jewel of the Americas." The story goes that Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was born under a tree in San Juan, a province in western Argentina. I passed that tree every day on my way to teach at the Faculty of Philosophy, Humanities and Arts at the Universidad Nacional de San Juan (UNSJ), as a newly minted Fulbright Scholar in early 2010. I couldn't help thinking that I was also following the path that Sarmiento took in 1869, when he brought 65 English teachers to Argentina from Boston. An early advocate of universal education, Sarmiento helped establish Argentina's national education system when he was minister of religion, justice and public instruction. Later, as governor of San Juan, Sarmiento passed laws mandating primary education and lobbied for tuition-free public primary schools. Then, as president (1868–1874), he established 800 schools and oversaw a quadrupling of educational funding to provinces.
  • Topic: Education, Religion
  • Political Geography: Argentina
  • Author: Richard Madsen
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the Reform Era in 1979, there has been a rapid growth and development of religious belief and practice in China. A substantial new scholarly literature has been generated in the attempt to document and understand this. This essay identifies the most important contributions to that literature and discusses areas of agreement and controversy across the literature. Along with new data, new paradigms have developed to frame research on Chinese religions. The paradigm derived from C. K. Yang's classic work in the 1960s came from structural functionalism, which served to unite research in the humanities and social sciences. However, structural functionalism has been abandoned by the new generation of scholars. In the humanities, the most popular paradigm derives from Michel Foucault, but there are also scholars who use neo-Durkheimian and neo-Weberian paradigms. In the social sciences, the dominant paradigms tend to focus on state-society relations. None of these paradigms fully captures the complexity of the transformations happening in China. We recommend greater dialogue between the humanities and social sciences in search of more adequate theoretical frameworks for understanding Chinese religions today.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Religion
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Lawrence C. Reardon
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: During the 1980s, Chinese policy elites underwent a process of complex learning in economic policy that resulted in a shift from a revolutionary to a techno-economic paradigm that greatly reduced the control of the Chinese Communist Party over the economy. Spillover from the sectoral paradigm shift affected other policy sectors, which forced policy elites to experiment with religious policies that would complement the new economic paradigm. This experimentation fostered the growth of a civil society that could assume the social responsibilities cast off by the reforming state-owned enterprises. However, the experimentation also empowered distributional coalitions such as the Falungong, which threatened the party's control. Policy elites thus implemented adaptations of religious policies formulated under the revolutionary paradigm. The study concludes that the current conflict between the Vatican and Beijing resembles an iterated prisoner's dilemma and that the conflict will continue until Chinese policy elites realize that the failure of religious policy adaptations threaten the long-term goals of the techno-economic paradigm.
  • Topic: Religion
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Bedross Der Matossian
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: For the Armenians of Palestine, the three decades of the Mandate were probably the most momentous in their fifteen hundred-year presence in the country. The period witnessed the community's profound transformation under the double impacts of Britain's Palestine policy and waves of destitute Armenian refugees fleeing the massacres in Anatolia. The article presents, against the background of late Ottoman rule, a comprehensive overview of the community, including the complexities and role of the religious hierarchy, the initially difficult encounter between the indigenous Armenians and the new refugee majority, their politics and associations, and their remarkable economic recovery. By the early 1940s, the Armenian community was at the peak of its success, only to be dealt a mortal blow by the 1948 war, from which it never recovered.
  • Topic: Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Britain, Palestine, Armenia
  • Author: Chris Kwaja
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Communal clashes across ethnic and religious faultlines in and around the city of Jos in central Nigeria have claimed thousands of lives, displaced hundreds of thousands of others, and fostered a climate of instability throughout the surrounding region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Yalım Eralp
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: There are many negative elements in EU-Turkey relations. Some consider the difference in religion as the primary factor. The issue is deeper than that. It is cultural contradiction. When Europe says cultural diversity is richness, it tends to mean cultural integration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regional Cooperation, Religion, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: James W. Ceaser
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville could conceivably be thought to offer any guidance for the study of contemporary China? Tocqueville was born early in the nineteenth century (1805) at a time when China lay in near total isolation from Europe. Matters changed during Tocqueville's lifetime with the so-called Opium War (1839–41), in which China suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Great Britain. This reversal helped set in motion a series of events that led to the destabilization of the Manchu (or Qing) dynasty, which eventually fell in 1911. Tocqueville commented in his personal notes on a few of the early occurrences in this sequence, but he never undertook an extensive analysis of developments in the Far East. His focus in his published works was on the West, or what he often called “the Christian world.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Markets, Religion
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Vasanthi Srinivasan
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the Advanced Study of India
  • Abstract: Besides canonical texts such as Bhagavad Gita and Dharmasutras, reflections upon dharma's complexity and dilemmas abound in popular narratives such as Pancatantra, Hitopadesa and Vikram and Vetaal stories. Popularised by Amar Chitra Katha and Chanda Mama as Vikram and Vetaal, this classic is second only to Pancatantra and has been part of the narrative repertoire of many Indians. It is about the encounters between King Vikramaditya and a superhuman daemon, Vetala dwelling in a corpse. In several stories, King Vikramaditya is presented with two or more instances of noble or generous or virtuous actions and asked to judge which is greater. This essay examines ethical reasoning and judgment as they are presented in five stories about superlative nobility, magnanimity and virtue. Focusing on Vikramaditya's verdicts, I argue that judging extraordinary nobility or generosity or virtue involves going beyond dharma whether we take it as customary duty (based on caste and class, stage of life or family usage) or even occupational duty (svadharma). It appears that ethical greatness is all about sovereign gestures through which one responds to the challenges posed by the sacrifices of others.
  • Topic: Religion, Culture
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: L. H. M. Ling
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The New School Graduate Program in International Affairs
  • Abstract: Novice Lee (“Frank”) seeks world peace and thinks he has found it in the liberal world order. He informs the Learned One, head of the monastery. Through their discussions, Frank discovers that the liberal world order, despite its promises, offers neither “democracy” nor “peace.” Turning to the Confucian world order of “all-under-heaven” (tianxia), they find it similarly top-down and one-way. Finally, Frank and the Learned One, now joined by their brother monks and sister nuns, consider the life of the 7thcentury monk, Xuanzang. He inspires Frank to imagine a “worldly world order” where humility and learning drive one's engagements with others, rather than what we have today: hegemony and imperialism.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion, Political Theory
  • Author: Alexander De Juan, Johannes Vüllers
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Religious elites are active for peace in many violent conflicts. Normative explanations often do not suffice to explain their engagement. In this paper we draw on the findings of social‐movement research to identify the factors that induce rationally acting religious elites to be active for peace. It is their relationships to the government, other religious elites, and believers that can motivate them to call for peace. However, they will do so only if they anticipate—based on the overall influence of other religious peace (co‐)activists, the structure of the religious community, and the frame environment—that they will not be penalized for their engagement. Religious norms are an important motivation behind religious peace activism, but rational decision‐making also has to be taken into account if religious engagement for peace is to be explained fully.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion, Social Movement
  • Author: Sarah Grebowski, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recognition by Egypt's leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Julie A. Nelson
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University
  • Abstract: This much-cited adage from 9th century Zen master Lin-Chi is a key Buddhist warning about nonattachment. Like so many Zen sayings and koans, it can surprise and unsettle us. It reminds us that even our highest ideals, goals, and aspirations are not something we can cling to. If we think we've finally "got it," that is a sure sign that we do not, and it's back to the meditation cushion for us.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Religion
  • Author: Ashley J. Tellis, Martha Brill Olcott, Dmitri V. Trenin, Frédéric Grare, Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Christopher Boucek, Gilles Dorronsoro, Karim Sadjadpour, Michael D. Swaine, Aroop Mukharji, Haroun Mir, Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Tiffany Ng
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Obama administration has made some decisive changes to the Afghan policy it inherited. Most significantly, in its first year it committed to a 250 percent increase in the American force on the ground (adding 51,000 troops to the 34,000 in Afghanistan when Mr. Obama took office) and lobbied hard to secure increases in non–U.S. coalition forces. It matched this large increase in force with a major reduction in the goal: from raising a democratic state in Afghanistan to the creation of a state strong enough to prevent a takeover by the Taliban, al–Qaeda, or any other radical Islamic group; and to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” al–Qaeda (which, of course, is not achievable in Afghanistan or Afghanistan and Pakistan alone). The third pillar of the policy was and is a greater emphasis on the need for a regional approach, a belief the Bush administration moved toward in its closing days.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Religion, Terrorism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, India
  • Author: Ethna Regan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Georgetown University Press
  • Abstract: The discourse of human rights has emerged as the dominant moral discourse of our time. Reflecting on this often contentious discourse, with both its enthusiasts and detractors, led me to consider the following questions: What constitutes an intelligible definition of human rights? What place should this discourse occupy within ethics? Can theology acknowledge human rights discourse? How is theological engagement with human rights justified? What are the implications of the convergence of what are two potentially universalizable discourses?
  • Topic: Human Rights, Religion, Political Theory
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Sudan stands today at a precipice. In 100 days the South will hold a referendum on self-determination with a vote for independence expected. Extensive early warnings exist indicating a real threat of the commission of mass atrocities surrounding the referendum, with those populations most at risk already identified. This threat looms while intertribal violence in the South is rising; conflict in Darfur persists; attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Central and Western Equatorial states continue unabated; and a return to war in the South is a possibility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Genocide, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While Bosnia and Herzegovina's time as an international protectorate is ending, which is in itself most welcome, now is the wrong time to rush the transition. The state put together by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement after a long war will never be secure and able to take its place in the European Union (EU) until it is responsible for the consequences of its own decisions. But tensions are currently high and stability is deteriorating, as Bosniaks and Serbs play a zero-sum game to upset the Dayton settlement. Progress toward EU membership is stalled, and requirements set in 2008 for ending the protectorate have not been not met.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu is in a bind. Israel is facing arguably unprecedented pressure to halt all settlement activity, led by a new and surprisingly determined U.S. administration. But the prime minister also heads a distinctly right-wing coalition and faces intense domestic pressure from settlers and their allies. However important, what will emerge from current discussions between Washington and Jerusalem will only be step one in a long process designed to achieve a settlement freeze, settlement evacuation and a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians. Understanding how Israel might deal with these challenges requires understanding a key yet often ignored constituency - its growing and increasingly powerful religious right.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Eric Rosand, Jason Ipe, Naureen Chowdhury Fink
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Horrific acts of terrorism, such as the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, underscore the regional nature of the terrorist threat in South Asia, and they highlight the need for greater cooperation within the region to address it. This report explores ways to strengthen such cooperation, with a particular focus on the role that the United Nations can play in this regard. It urges the United Nations to build on the international community's solidarity in the wake of terrorist attacks—such as those recently in Islamabad, Lahore, and Mumbai—to forge stronger engagement between the United Nations and South Asia on counterterrorism and within the region itself.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, United Nations, Mumbai, Alabama, Lahore
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Noor Borbieva
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the impact of globalization on local religious life in the Kyrgyz Republic, a formerly Soviet republic of Central Asia. The central argument of the paper is that transnational Islamic discourses alter the way Kyrgyz Muslims think about identity and religious authority. The paper draws on the work of Talal Asad, acknowledging important contributions he has made to the anthropology of Islam, as well as exploring the limitations of his approach. The paper follows Asad in viewing Islam as a tradition of competing discourses, none of which are more authentic than any other, but challenges Asad when he limits the study of Islam to competing discourses about belief and practice. Ethnographic material reveals that not only do Kyrgyz Muslims champion an astounding variety of competing discourses about Islam, but with the entrance of transnational Islamic discourses in these contests, they increasingly encompass issues of identity and religious authority.
  • Topic: Globalization, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Central Asia
  • Author: Timothy R. Scully, Samuel Valenzuela, Nicolás Somma
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper provides an empirical examination of the effects of religiosity and of religious identities on a broad range of attitudes in seven Latin American countries. It is based on ECosociAl, a new national survey of large urban areas. The topics covered in the paper include the extent to which these religious variables affect levels of civic participation, the propensity to vote in elections, self-placement on the left-to-right ideological scale, levels of happiness, confidence in institutions and in other people, and the degrees of tolerance or acceptance of people of different beliefs, personal attributes, or social condition.
  • Topic: Religion
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Valerie M. Hudson, Mary Caprioli, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Rose McDermott, Chad F. Emmett
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: What are the roots of conflict and insecurity for states? When the international system is relatively stable, attention turns to differences in state attributes. Some scholars argue that civilizational differences, defined by ethnicity, language, and religion, are an underlying catalyst for conflict and insecurity. Others have spoken of the importance of differentiating between democratic and nondemocratic regime types in explaining conflict in the modern international system. Still others assert that poverty, exacerbated by resource scarcity in a context of unequal access, is at the root of conflict and insecurity at both micro-and macro-levels of analysis.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Author: Ghada Al-Madbouh
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence is a daring attempt to analyze the thinking of Hamas as a social movement and not simply as a terrorist organization. Using a combination of political theory and empirical research, Jeroen Gunning, a lecturer in international politics at the University of Wales (and deputy director of the university's Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence), contextualizes issues of democracy, religion, and violence as they relate to Hamas. Methodologically, Gunning offers an extensive discussion of his interpretive ethnographic fieldwork in the Gaza Strip (conducted 1997–2004), taking his analysis beyond the straightforward causality or correlation of mainstream political science. The main merit of the book, however, rests in Gunning's attempt to wed the study of Hamas's discourse to the study of its actual practices regarding religion, democracy, and violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Religion
  • Political Geography: Gaza
  • Author: Shailly Barnes
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Religion is not often pursued as a source of engagement in the international discourse on development. While faith-based organizations have received a greater audience and exerted greater influence in the past few years under the Bush administration, it is still uncommon for international development agencies to incorporate religious loyalties, insights and communities into their regional or national agendas. This pattern of development practice grew, perhaps, from an attempt to pursue a secular agenda that offended none and therefore was acceptable to all. However, in neglecting the religiosity of the poorest of the poor, the development agenda fails to acknowledge and learn from some of the most innovative, influential and sustainable development actors: the religious leadership of the world's poor.
  • Topic: Religion