Center for Global Affairs
Modern Religious Identities: Competition and Conflict on the World's Stage
From Ayodhya, to Hebron, to Dar Es Salaam and Dagestan, religiously inspired violence has gripped the world¿s attention over the past few decades, both riveting and perplexing the modern imagination. Religion occupies a complex position in the modern political arena. Religious ideologies can be used to legitimize revolution and reform or to justify their suppression. Religious leaders can help inspire citizens to progressive activism, or mobilize opposition to social and political change. Religious movements can galvanize peaceful resistance to oppressive states, or lead violent opposition to them. This course provides students with a framework for thinking about the role of religion in global affairs. The prominence of religious ideologies and religious movements on the world stage is often described as a recent development coinciding with the end of the Cold War. This course will probe that assumption, focusing on how some of the world¿s great religious traditions have influenced and been influenced by global political, economic, and social changes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The course will address such topics as: religion and nationalism, religious militancy, global and local religious identities, and the politics of religious synchretism and religious orthodoxy. Particular attention will be paid to the complex and dynamic role of Islam in the modern world.