Religion and International Relations Theory

In This Review

Religion and International Relations Theory (Religion, Culture, and Public Life)
By
Columbia University Press, 2011
232 pp. $27.50
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Until 9/11 and the war on terrorism, few scholars systematically explored how religious beliefs and movements shape global politics. In this impressive volume, a group of mostly younger academics does just that. Snyder argues that religion can alter the basic patterns of international relations: who the actors are, what they want, what capacities they have to attract support, and what rules they follow. Islamic groups, Christian fundamentalists, and the Falung Gong all impinge on world politics in various ways. Religious movements can reinforce state authority or undermine it, and religion can reinforce the territorial boundaries of states or mobilize loyalties that cut across borders. Timothy Samuel Shah and Daniel Philpott trace the rise and fall of secularism in international relations. Monica Duffy Toft explores the connections between religion and war, arguing that religion, not unlike nationalism, can help its devotees rationalize self-sacrifice in support of a larger community. Il Hyun Cho and Peter Katzenstein argue that Confucianism in East Asia survived the region’s modernization and is now an important tool for bolstering state authority and regional identity there.