Abstracts Volume 29, No. 3

Special Issue: Religion and International Relations

WRITING SACRAL IR: AN EXCAVATION INVOLVING KÜNG, ELIADE, AND ILLITERATE BUDDHISM Stephen Chan

This paper attempts an excavation, rather than a genealogy (since no genealogy of conscious sacral IR exists) using Hans Küng, Mircea Eliade, and illiterate Buddhism. The complete piece devolves to a methodology of ontology which is other-worldly, or at least not Western; and also makes a critique of existing normative International Relations theory. I try to illustrate both the subjectivity and self-reflexive subjectivity of any search for truth, and to offset the oriental stories with knowledge from Western disciplines and thinkers outside IR.

More to the point, I try to illustrate the desirability of various truths, and how the multiplicity of them should be contextualised within a quest for good. Not only that, but the telling of truths, and the quest for good, establish an intersubjectivity which is amenable to a hermeneutics, as Ricoeur suggested, most plausibly established in art and stories. But it is not enough merely to tell stories. I am saying here that, in its rush to secularity, IR has forgotten the need to tell stories that are sacral - that are compositions towards the sacred - and which are reflectivities upon long and different histories of establishing the conditions of goodness and, yes, of truth/s. It is the methodologies of reflection that, I propose, exist in the world's cultures as sacral devices

THE RECONTRUCTION OF RELIGIOUS ARENA IN THE FRAMEWORK OF 'MULTIPLE MODERNITIES' S.N. Eisenstadt

This paper analyses the far-reaching resurgence of the religious dimension in the contemporary world, in the framework of the continual development of 'multiple modernities'. It is a part of the story of continual development and formation, constitution and reconstitution of a multiplicity of cultural programs of modernity and of distinctively modern institutional patterns. Contemporary religious movements attempt to completely dissociate Westernisation from modernity. They deny the monopoly or hegemony of Western modernity, and the acceptance of the Western modern cultural program as the epitome of modernity. In the context of these new social movements, the confrontation with the West does not take the form of a search to become incorporated into a hegemonic - predominantly Western - civilisation, but rather in attempts to appropriate modernity on their own distinctly modern terms

ISLAM AND THE WEST: MUSLIM VOICES OF DIALOGUE John L. Esposito and John O. Voll

In the final decades of the twentieth century, an important type of Muslim leader-intellectual became prominent, playing a significant role in Muslim reconceptualisations of religion and international relations. This paper argues that Muslim activist intellectuals like Anwar in Malaysia, Khatami in Iran, and Wahid in Indonesia had an important role in articulating and sometimes implementing new concepts and paradigms in domestic and international politics. In particular, reacting against the 'clash/jihadists view' of the world, they have been active in defining the terms of inter-civilisational dialogue from an Islamic perspective which recognise and respond to the realities of global diversity and multiculturalism. Issues of democratisation, civil society, the rule of law, pluralism, and tolerance have become common themes of the domestic politics and international relations of their countries.

DOES RELIGION MAKE A DIFFERENCE? THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO IMPACT OF FAITH ON POLITICAL CONFLICT Andreas Hasenclever and Volker Rittberger

The article contributes to the ongoing debate on the role of religious traditions in politics. After briefly discussing several approaches to the study of the current world-wide revival of religions, a simple elite-based model of strategic choices in political conflicts is introduced. We argue that, although differences in religious creed are hardly ever a genuine source of political conflict, under certain conditions, they shape conflict behaviour decisively in the direction of either escalation or de-escalation.

The paper goes on to examine three different types of strategies which are expected to help control, if not reduce, the violence-promoting impact of religious creeds on the course of political confrontations: (1) strategies of socioeconomic development and democratisation that are designed to manage the underlying modernisation crisis; (2) strategies of intimidation and repression which aim at increasing the costs of violent resistance and uprisings; (3) the dialogue strategy which seeks to delegitimise the use of violence for the advancement of particular interests. The remainder of the paper focuses on the third strategy that is devised to initiate a dialogue - or to reinforce the on-going dialogues - among the world's religions in order to achieve and strengthen an inter-religious world ethic. Such an ethic is held to broaden the space for co-operative forms of conflict management during socioeconomic crises thus preventing political conflicts from escalating into violent clashes.

TOWARDS AN INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL THEOLOGY Vendulka Kubalkov

An increasing visibility of religion on all levels of social activity including IR calls into question the stubbornness of Western social sciences unwilling (and unable) to treat religions as important social factors on their own terms, on par with secular discourses. To correct this situation this article uses Nicholas Onuf's post-positivist rule-oriented constructivist ontological framework as a foundation of 'International Political Theology' (IPT). IPT is another extension of IR, just as IPE once was. IPT refers to the systematic study of discourses and relations amongst them concerning world affairs that search for - or claim to have found - a response, transcendental or secular, to the human need for meaning. Central to the argument is Charles Pierce's concept of abductive reasoning, not inferior, in fact much more widespread worldwide than the modern understanding of what does or does not constitute 'rational' or a form of a judgment. The article shows how IPT can relate religious and secular discourses, so far regarded as 'incommensurable'.

IN DEFENCE OF RELIGION: SACRED OBJECTS FOR SECURITIZATION Carsten Bagge Laustsen and Ole Wæver

Central to securitization theory is that the constitution of the referent object makes a difference. Survival and defence means something different to different referent objects. In the sphere of religion, the first task is therefore to characterise the nature of objects constituted by a religious discourse. On the basis of Kierkegaard, Bataille and Smart, the first step of the analysis itself is to explore the logic of securitization of objects that are clearly of a religious nature. Among the illustrations are both what 'fundamentalists' fear and how fundamentalists are seen as a security threat. It is shown why it is often particularly tempting to securitize religion, how it is done, and what doing it does (i.e. what chain reactions are usually started, including. the role of sacrifices, myths, and rituals).

The second step of the analysis is to notice how what is taken to be specific to religion is actually present in many political ideologies. Ideology is quasi-religion: religion securitized and thereby impoverished as religion. Much securitization in the sphere of politics is understood better if one takes account of how it draws on a distorted form of religion. The main illustration in this section is Nazi Germany. The third step regards the meta-theoretical implications of religion for securitization theory (and by implication much of IR theory). Although, the article started out quite narrowly looking at what happens when you defend religious referent objects, its title takes on a more radical meaning when the article ends up itself defending religion as an important dimension of theory and self-reflection in IR. This part on the article draws - in addition to post-structuralist philosophers - on some of the older connections between religion and IR, notably among classical realists and early English School.

DOGMA, PRAXIS, AND RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES ON MULTICULTURALISM Cecelia Lynch

Theological and religious thinking can contribute considerably to debates about culture in international politics. While students of international relations such as Elshtain, Rengger, Loriaux, Falk, and Connolly have begun to break down Enlightenment barriers to understanding theological ethics, the analysis of religious thinking and praxis by students of world politics more generally is lacking. Even much contemporary 'critical' international relations remains dominated by Enlightenment worldviews that cast religious belief, thought, and action in overly essentialist terms. Religious and theological thinking need to be seen as evolving rather than reified.

This article traces the development of debates about culture in general, and multiculturalism in particular, in contemporary religious thinking. It analyses several specific theological views on religious pluralism, from exclusivism to syncretism and apologetics. Each of these perspectives, like others before them, mirrors historical developments as well as trends in political philosophy in interesting ways.

Thus, while much of our political debates over the role of religion remain mirrored in exclusivist analyses, contemporary religious thought provides new ways of thinking about the socio-political implications of the multiple systems of belief present in the world. It is thus critical to reincorporate the study of religious thinking into debates about the purpose of political community and the interaction between ethical thinking and historical praxis.

RELIGION AND POLITICS IN WESTERN CIVILISATION: THE ANCIENT WORLD AS MATRIX AND MIRROR OF THE MODERN Andreas Osiander

This article seeks to show that the two systems of religious belief that have shaped the development of Western civilisation, Graeco-Roman religion and Christianity, are at the origin of important social and political attitudes and patterns of behaviour in Western society even today. I contend that the so-called 'Western values' with their libertarian, pluralist, inclusivist, and solidarist content and their emphasis on 'human rights' are ultimately derived from the Graeco-Roman paradigm. By contrast, the 'judeo-christian' heritage of Western civilisation is largely responsible for the aggressive side of its political culture, with Christian 'deep culture' continuing to foster feelings of superiority, intolerance, and a crusading mentality even in post-religious modern society.

THE DIMENSION OF NATIONALISM Anthony D. Smith Religion and nationalism were often assumed to be opposed belief-systems. But the recent spate of religious nationalisms has led some to see them as strategic allies. Neither view does justice to the complexity of their relations. A more functional approach, harking back to Emile Durkheim's analysis, sees in nationalism a form of 'political religion' whose tensions with traditional religions has led to the politicisation of religion, the messianisation of politics, and the elevation of the 'people'. By distinguishing different levels of analysis - official, popular, and underlying - we can grasp the nation elevated by nationalism as a sacred communion of citizens, a willed and felt communion of those who assert a moral faith and feel an ancestral affinity.

The foundational elements or sacred properties of the nation include: the myth of ethnic election, both missionary and covenantal; the attachment to a sacred territory through the territorialisation of memory and the sanctification of land; the memory of one or more 'golden ages' as the high points of communal ethno-history; and the cult of the 'glorious dead' and of national self-sacrifice. In these ways, religion and the sacred re-enter the frame of international politics in new guises, creating a sense of cohesion through sacrifice, engendering a sense of national self-confidence and exclusivity, and often intensifying conflicts over disputed territories. Above all, nationalism through its promotion of national rituals and symbols, by contributing to the 'normalisation' of nations, has been as much a force for international stability as for disruption.

TAKING RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL PLURALISM SERIOUSLY: THE GLOBAL RESURGENCE OF RELIGION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY Scott M. Thomas

The global resurgence of religion and cultural pluralism are challenging international society making authenticity rival development as the key concern of the developing world. Because of this large-scale religious change international society is becoming multicultural for the first time. A new approach to international order is required which overcomes the 'Westphalian presumption' in international relations. A genealogy of religion shows how this presumption is based on Western modernitys invention of religion as a set of privatised doctrines and beliefs, and how these conceptions were crucial for the rise of both the state and international society. If the global resurgence of religion is to be taken seriously, then an earlier social understanding of religion still found in many parts of the developing world, with its concern for authenticity and development, may have to be incorporated into any post-Westphalian international order. Alasdair MacIntyre social theory helps show how this can be done when it is applied to the English School's concept of international society. 'Virtue-ethics', the approach to ethics related to his social theory, can be used to develop a 'deeper pluralism' among different communities and states in international society. 

POST-BIPOLAR ORDER IN CRISIS: THE CHALLENGE OF POLITICISED ISLAM Bassam Tibi

In this article the focus is on Islam; its potential to rise as a political religion and its explicit universalism that can easily assume the shape of a modern political internationalism.My basic argument centres around the revival of religion on grounds of its politicisation. In the tradition of Hedley Bull my reasoning revolves around the concept of order. First, I analyse the Islamic conception of order, and enquire into the challenges it poses for western secular models like the nation-state. Subsequently, I critically assess the Iranian Islamic Republic as the first alleged Islamic order. In the concluding part of the paper, I attempt to challenge Khomeini's call for confrontation by presenting a formula for inter-civilisational dialogue. I am aware of the normative character of this effort, but I believe that dialogue is a vital option for peace in our global age.

FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION, AND JUSTICE: A THEOLOGICAL CONTRIBUTION TO A MORE PEACEFUL SOCIAL ENVIROMENT Miroslav Volf

Instead of slowly withering away or lodging itself quietly into the privacy of worshipers' hearts as the mainstream sociologists were predicting for quite some time, religion has emerged as an important player on the national and international scenes. In public perception, however, the reassertion of religion as a political factor has not been for the good. It seems that gods have only terror on their mind. In this essay I will contest the widespread belief that the Christian faith, as one of the major world religions, predominantly fosters violence, and will argue, instead, that it should be seen as a contributor to more peaceful social environments. I will do so by exploring the nexus of issues around the questions of forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice and thereby showing that at Christianity's heart, and not just at its margins, lie important resources for creating a culture of peace.

The more the faith is reduced to vague religiosity or conceived of as exclusively a private affair, the worse off we will be; and inversely, the more the faith is nurtured as an ongoing tradition that by its intrinsic content shapes behaviour and by the domain of its regulative reach touches public sphere, the better off we will be.

UNEXCEPTIONAL POLITICS?: THE IMPACT OF ISLAM ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Katerina Dalacoura

The review article assesses whether Islam is an 'independent' force in Middle East politics or is, by contrast, moulded by the social, economic, and political circumstances in the region. It comes down, on balance, in favour of the second view.

It uses the books under review which cover three major areas in the study of international relations, war, the nation-state and nationalism, and human rights to demonstrate that Islam is malleable to political needs and requirements and can be interpreted to fit with particular historical moments and ideas. Islam's impact on international relations is therefore 'unexceptional' in the sense that it can be assessed using universal categories of analysis. The article argues that the approach that focuses on the historicity and flexibility of Islam can be useful for analysing the role of religion in IR generally.

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