• A-Z
  • Directory
  • myUVM
  • Loading search...

Peter S. Henne

Religion and International Relations

Posted: August 26th, 2016 by phenne

My primary research program looks at how religion influences international relations.

Most of my work so far has focused on the effects of religion-state connections on international relations. By this I mean the numerous institutions, policies and political relationships that connect or separate religious groups from the state. When religion and state are closely intertwined, religious contention becomes more powerful, religious symbols and debates are more salient, and regimes find it harder to ignore the demands of religious groups. This can have dramatic effects on a variety of aspects of state behavior. In this way, religion plays an important role in international relations, but it does through by being channeled through political institutions and the dynamics of regime survival.

One major element of this research project is the development of this theory and application to international security issues. In The Two Swords: Religion-State Connections and Interstate Disputes, published in the Journal of Peace Research, I developed my theory on how religion-state connections affect international relations, and tested it using a large-n analysis of international conflict data. Additionally, in Islamic Politics, Muslim States and Counterterrorism, published by Cambridge University Press, I elaborated on this theory and applied it to the specific area of counterterrorism cooperation. I discuss my book further here.

I am extending this research on the nature and effects of religion-state connections through two new research projects. These projects apply the theory I presented in my book to different empirical areas, strengthening the validity of my argument.

One looks into how religion-state connections relate to political violence. I argue that religious contention can produce a distinct form of political violence, including extreme violence and a focus on global and divine issues. Yet, religion itself does not produce this violence. Instead, it is the manner in which religion and state are connected that matters. I have presented this work through articles in the Journal of Conflict Resolution (forthcoming), Terrorism and Political Violence and a working paper. More information on this research is available here.

The other looks into the nature of religious repression. I follow recent advances on this topic, arguing religious repression is primarily political; states use it to neutralize threats to their rule. Because of religion’s powerful influence on politics, however, this leads to some distinct dynamics. I have discussed this in the context of religious issues in the United Nations in articles in the Journal of Church and State (forthcoming) and Politics and Religion. I have also applied it to forced migration in Politics and Religion and religious conflict in the aforementioned forthcoming article in Journal of Conflict Resolution. More information on this research is available here.

My next project will look at how and when states attempt to use religion in international crises–to justify their actions, demonize opponents, and/or mobilize support–and whether this is effective. I am beginning with a focus on Middle East conflict, looking into why states appealed to Islam in some conflict and in others tried to avoid religion becoming an issue. This book will take a different theoretical approach than my first book, drawing on advances in the practice approach to religion and international relations. Stay tuned for updates as this work progresses.

 

 

Contact Us ©2010 The University of Vermont – Burlington, VT 05405 – (802) 656-3131
Skip to toolbar