1st Edition

Religion and World Politics Connecting Theory with Practice

By Erin K. Wilson Copyright 2023
    160 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    160 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Religion and World Politics provides a short, accessible, and practical introduction to how we can understand the place of religion in world politics in a more comprehensive, contextually relevant way.

    Is religion central or irrelevant, positive or negative in world politics today? So much political commentary and analysis focuses on these issues. But these are the wrong questions to be asking. Designed for practitioners, policymakers, and newcomers to the topic of religion and global politics, this book emphasises that religion is not something clear, identifiable, and definable, but is fluid and shifting. Consequently, we need analytical frameworks that help us to make sense of this ever-changing phenomenon. The author presents a critical, intersectional framework for analysing religion and applies this to case studies of three core areas of international relations (IR) analysis: (1) conflict, violence, and security; (2) development and humanitarianism; and (3) human rights, law, and public life. These cases highlight how assumptions about what religion is and does affect policymakers, theorists, and activists. The book demonstrates the damage that has been done through policies and programmes based on unquestioned assumptions and the possibilities and insights to be gained by incorporating the critical study of religion into research, policymaking, and practice.

    This book will be of great interest to students of global politics, IR, religion, and security studies, as well as diplomats, civil servants, policymakers, journalists, and civil society practitioners. It will also benefit IR scholars interested in developing their research to include religion, as well as scholars of religion from disciplines outside IR interested in a deeper understanding of religion and world politics.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license. Thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched www.knowledgeunlatched.org

    1. Unlearning Religion As (We Think) We Know It

    2. Relearning Religion: A Critical Intersectional Approach

    3. Conflict, Violence, and Security

    4. Development and Humanitarianism

    5. Human Rights, Law, and Public Life



    Erin K. Wilson is Professor and Chair of Politics and Religion and Vice Dean and Director of Education in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She is also co-Chair of the Academic Advisory Council for the Transatlantic Partnership Network on Religion and Diplomacy.

    "‘Religion’ is sometimes said to be the root of international conflict; and sometimes a resource for peacemaking. To some, ‘religion’ underlies human rights abuses; to others, it is the foundation of universal respect and love. But what, actually, is it? Do all these explanations refer to the same thing, or does ‘religion’ mean different things in different contexts? As Erin K. Wilson demonstrates, such questions have real-world, sometimes even life-and-death, implications. With her trademark clarity, Wilson spells out the policy, legal and international relations implications of how we understand religion, and why it matters."

    Marion Maddox FAHA, Honorary Professor of Politics at Macquarie University, Australia

    "Erin K. Wilson makes a compelling—and highly accessible—case that critical approaches to religion are not the sole preserve of academics, but instead offer great practical insight for practitioners, policymakers, and general audiences alike. Anyone seeking a more nuanced understanding of how religion intersects with contemporary global politics needs to read this book."

    Peter Mandaville, United States Institute of Peace

    "This is a much-needed addition to the growing literature on religion and international politics. Targeting people outside of academia, the book provides guidance on how to study an incredibly complex issue in an admirably clear and straight-forward manner. Drawing on her vast experiences working with policy and civil society over the last decade, Wilson presents her insights and expertise in a way that is accessible and practically applicable. I highly recommend this book for diplomats, NGOs, journalists, legal professionals and anyone else interested in developing a better understanding of religion and global politics."

    Marie Juul Petersen, Danish Human Rights Institute

    "A wonderful new contribution from a scholar permanently committed to connect theory with practice. Erin K. Wilson does not shy away from asking the most critical questions regarding our field of work, but always with the purpose of finding new entry points and exploring new pathways together. Her new book draws on a depth of knowledge on recent scholarship on religion in international relations, from which practitioners like me will benefit for many years to come."

    Dr Ton Groeneweg, Program Officer at Mensen met een Missie, the Netherlands