Straddling National and International Politics: Revisiting the Secular Assumptions

Author: Jocelyne Cesari

January 1, 2017

This chapter in the Routledge Handbook of International Political Sociology presents religion and secularism as interrelated phenomena and points to the need to study religion as a lived experience, in contrast to what is a prevalent tendency in international relations and comparative politics literature, that is to seek insights from centuries-old texts in the study of contemporary religious experiences. Religion cannot be studied without considering the sociological dynamics that cross boundaries, assuming interstate, trans-state, and beyond-the-state forms, notes Cesari. Likewise, secularization is not a process that can be understood in any "national" context or in comparative terms without considering the international as a context and a space where relations take place. Looking at the “hard case” of democratization and conflict, Cesari underscores that religion is not external to the political and the international but constitutive of it—albeit in different ways in different places.

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