Religion and Soft Power in the South Caucasus  book cover
1st Edition

Religion and Soft Power in the South Caucasus

Edited By

Ansgar Jödicke

ISBN 9780367886844
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
258 Pages

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Book Description

In the Caucasus region, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and their powerful neighbours Russia, Turkey, Iran and the EU negotiate their future policies and spheres of influence. This volume explores the role of religion in the South Caucasus to describe and explain how transnational religious relationships intermingle with transnational political relationships. The concept of ‘soft power’ is the heuristic starting point of this important investigation to define the importance of religion in the region.

Drawing on a three-year project supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the book brings together academics from the South Caucasus and across Europe to offer original empirical research and contributions from experienced researchers in political science, history and oriental studies.

This book will be of interest to scholars in the fields of post-Soviet studies, international relations, religious studies and political science.

Table of Contents

Religion and Soft Power in the South Caucasus: An Introduction

Part I: The Case of Georgia

Chapter 1: Turkish Soft Power Politics in Georgia: Making Sense of Political and Cultural Implications

Chapter 2: Common Faith in Scrutiny: Orthodoxy as Soft Power in Russia-Georgia Relations

Chapter 3: Iran’s Soft Power Policy in Georgia

Part II: The Case of Azerbaijan

Chapter 4: Iranian Soft Power in Azerbaijan—Does Religion Matter?

Chapter 5: Examining Salafism in Azerbaijan: Transnational Connections and Local Context

Chapter 6: Islam and Turkey’s Soft Power in Azerbaijan: the Gülen Movement

Part III: The Case of Armenia

Chapter 7: Religion as a Factor in Kurdish Identity Discourse in Armenia and Turkey

Chapter 8: Iran’s Soft Power Policy in Armenia: Cultural Diplomacy and Religion

Part IV: The EU – Russia Framework

Chapter 9: Face to Face with Conservative Religious Values: Assessing the EU’s Normative Impact in the South Caucasus

 Chapter 10: Russia as a Counter-Normative Soft Power: Between Ideology and Policy

 Part V: Prospects

Chapter 11: Prospects for Thinking Soft Power beyond Joseph Nye




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Ansgar Jödicke is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. His areas of research are religion and politics, in particular political religious education (politics) in Europe and the relationship between religion and politics in the South Caucasus. Together with Alexander Agadjanian and Evert van der Zweerde, he recently edited the volume Religion, Nation and Democracy in the South Caucasus (2015). Ansgar Jödicke has coordinated several research projects in the South Caucasus and in Switzerland. Among them, the SCOPES project ‘Religion and Soft Power. Religious Communities in the South Caucasus as Objects of External Influences’ (2014–2017) led to the results published in this volume.


"This book makes two very valuable contributions. It uses South Caucasus as a rich deposit of case studies to look at the very popular issue of soft power from an unusual angle of religion; but it also proposes a fresh view for those who are interested in this small but very complex region and are tired of looking at it through lenses of ethnic conflict, geopolitical competition, and oil and gas politics. Lots of interesting things to be found in this collection." - Ghia Nodia, Professor of Politics, Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"A fascinating collection, this volume helps us understand the vastly different political trajectories taken by the three South Caucasian states since independence. Written with theoretical sophistication, it adds important insights into how soft power is conceived and used by the South Caucasian governments, by their regional neighbors (Iran, Turkey and Russia primarily), and by the religious organizations themselves. The theoretical contributions are enriched by the chapters’ combined focus on particular case studies as well as on the broader framework of bilateral and multilateral relationships in the region. This is an intelligent book written by scholars who understand the complexities of the South Caucasus, and an important contribution to the field, helping to explain why religion remains such a vital part of modern political life." - Stephen F. Jones, Professor of Russian and Eurasian Politics, Mount Holyoke College.

"The reader who wants to learn something definite about religion and, soft power, or the South Caucasus is well advised to start making explicit her or his own conceptions of all three - otherwise she or he may get lost in the wealth of information that this book contains."
Evert van der Zweerde (Nijmegen)