Politics and Religion

image modified from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_religion#/media/File:Gustave_dore_crusades_entry_of_the_crusaders_into_constantinople.jpgThe aim of this final-year module is to develop an understanding of the relation between politics and religion by examining this relation in different contexts, by reflecting on the history of this relation in the West, and by discussing topical contemporary debates on it.

The module is divided in three parts. The first part focuses on the historical and theoretical context, including topics such as: the Enlightenment; the ‘secularisation thesis’; the ‘resurgence’ of religion; the ‘clash of civilisations’; and the variety of political ideologies religions associate with. The second part focuses on case studies, covering key controversies in over 25 different countries from across the world. The third part returns to broader questions in light of those controversies, and also turns to further topics such as human rights, religion and education, the boundaries of ‘religion’.

For their coursework, students are asked to write an essays (of 3000 words) to critically analyse the interaction of religion and politics in a case study chosen by them, guided by a specific question which needs to be negotiated and agreed. Some of the best essays are available below. Also available is a very good dissertation which was partly informed by this module.

Some of the useful online resources recommended for more information and analysis are copied below. A recent version of the reading list is available here.I also use Twitter to share news and information on themes related to this module. The hashtag is #euc664. Feel free to share more resources using that hashtag or by emailing me or commenting on this page.

Top student essays:

  1. China – To what extent is the Dalai Lama a threat to China? By Jean-Baptiste Jacquet (2013) or by By Claire Joy (2015)
  2. China – To What Extent is Uighur Islam a Threat to China? By Michael Nicholls (2017)
  3. France – Are recent French laws concerning the Muslim veil anti-feminist? By Sarah Mumeni (2014)
  4. France – Is the February 2004 law banning religious symbols in French public schools compatible with core French Republican values? By Katrina Howard (2012)
  5. France – To What Extent can Laïcité be Considered a Civil Religion? By Lucy Anns (2015)
  6. Indonesia – The ‘Perfect Model’ for Islam and Democracy? By Sini Haara (2012)
  7. Israel/Palestine – To what extent is religion the main driving force behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? By Gemma Perry (2015)
  8. Japan – To what extent did the Meiji Restoration lead a secularising agenda? – By Patrick Martin (2015)
  9. Japan – “Visiting the Yasukuni Shrine is a purely religious statement.” Critically discuss. By Katri Nevalainen (2015)
  10. Lebanon – To what extent is Hezbollah’s ideology motivated by religion? By Gareth Harris (2013)
  11. Russia – To what extent is Chechen separatism driven by religion? By Bethan Dinning (2014)
  12. Saudi Arabia – Does the State Control Religion or Does Religion Control the State? By Renée van Diemen (2012)
  13. Syria – To what extent is the Syrian civil war driven by inter-religious tensions? By Merve Gunenc (2017)
  14. Turkey – Is the AKP a threat to the Turkish model of secularisation? By Olivia Michelmore (2012)
  15. Uganda – What are the main causes of the emergence of the Holy Spirit Mobile Force? By Alex Petropoulos (2015)
  16. USA – To what extent is the inclusion of prayer in schools and creationism in their curriculum compatible with the secularism intended by the U.S. Constitution? By Louise Kellam (2014)

Dissertation related to the module:

Background and statistical information:

Scholarly journals in Politics & Religion:


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