Religion, power and networks in international relations

presenting on my new research at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg

Besides my book, my other current project explores how we can use network analysis to better understand international religious politics. This was funded by a Project Launch Grant from the University of Notre Dame’s Global Religion Research Initiative. I also received support for this from the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and the al-Waleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World. I argue that conventional studies of religion and international relations, focusing on religion as a static variable, have run into several obstacles. One solution is to change our methodology, focusing on religion as a set of interactions via network analysis.

I have published several articles on this topic. I have a review essay in International Studies Review, “Reassembling the social in the study of religion and international relations,” that calls on the study of religion and international relations to incorporate analytical tools from the relational turn in international relations. I demonstrate its value by reviewing three recent books on religion and international relations. I also discussed the potential for network analysis to overcome issues that arise when studying Muslim populations in the International Journal of Religion. Additionally, I published an article with Ahmet Erdi Ozturk (Metropolitan College of London) on practice theory and soft power in Turkey’s Balkans outreach in Religions. I also discussed conceptual issues with the term “soft power” more generally in International Studies Perspectives. Finally, I have two chapters with Gregorio Bettiza (University of Exeter) on the concept of religious soft power and its applicability to US foreign policy in Peter Mandaville’s (George Mason University) edited volume, The Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power.

I also have a few working papers as part of this project. This includes a paper using network analysis to test theories about Islam’s impact on international relations; I presented this at IASH, and will present it at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. I also have a paper with Jason Klocek (University of Nottingham), presented at the 2022 International Studies Association annual meeting, on social networks as a mediating factor between religious repression and terrorism. It also includes a paper using network analysis to analyze the political Islam after the Arab Spring. Additionally, there is a paper with Howard Liu (University of South Carolina) and Shahryar Minhas (Michigan State University) using network analysis to understand Middle Eastern states’ international alignment.