The Geopolitics of Religion in the 21st Century
Although intersections of the religious and the political are subject to increasing scholarly attention, the relationship between religion and power remains under-theorized. I plan to explore this relationship further, especially by investigating the ways that certain states gain and exercise power in 21st century world politics by drawing on their position as geographical, historical, and cultural centres of major globe-spanning religious traditions and networks. I hope to develop a typology of the forms of power that religions can generate for states internationally and apply this to a range of case studies.
Norms Diffusion and Contestation: Going Beyond the Literature's Liberal, Secular, Rationalist, and Western-centric Biases
With Filippo Dionigi I wrote a paper exploring the ways in which religious norms, promoted by non-Western agents, diffuse in international relations. With David Lewis we are theorizing the modes of normative contestation of the liberal international order that major authoritarian powers like Russia and China are engaged in. With Stephane Baele we plan to connect the emotions literature with the scholarship on norms to unpack the emotional mechanisms through which norms diffuse globally.
Post-Essentialist Civilizational Analysis in IR
I continue to work on a series of papers seeking to make a contribution and expand the recent post-essentialist turn in civilizational analysis in IR. In particular I am keen to explore why over the past decades civilizational imaginaries and narratives have taken hold among a wide range of international relations practitioners and how these, in turn, have come to re-orient international institutions and practices around civilizational categories. So far, along with a mapping of the literature, I also looked at the social construction of the 'Muslim world' in U.S. foreign policy, and at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
Finiding Faith in Foreign Policy: Making Religion a Subject and Object of U.S. Foreign Policy in a Post-Secular World
Since the end of the Cold War American foreign policy has been marked by the progressive emergence of new bureaucratic arrangements and practices with a distinctly religious character. In particular, the past two decades saw the unprecedented development and increasing institutionalization of four explicitly religious foreign policy frameworks: i) promoting international religious freedom; ii) advancing faith-based forms of international development and assistance; ii) reaching out to and targeting ‘Muslims’ and ‘Islam’ around the world; and iv) engaging religious communities abroad through faith-based approaches to diplomacy. As a result of these changes, American foreign policy has undergone multiple processes of ‘desecularization’ as religious actors and norms have become ever more entangled in its formulation and delivery. The book employs an innovative historical sociological approach to foreign policy analysis to explain the causes and consequences of American foreign policy desecularization. The monograph is based in part on research I conducted for my Ph.D.