Global Jihad : three approaches to religion and political conflict

Muller, Helgard Daniel (2002-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in America, and the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, have forced may people to seriously consider the impact of religion on political conflict. This literature review readdresses the serious neglect of religion in political studies by examining the three theoretical approaches to religion and political conflict, on the domestic and international level, that can be identified. Primordialists argue that differences in religious traditions should be viewed as one of the most important factors in explaining violent interactions in and between nations. They stress how differences in cultural identity and cosmologies can lead to violent conflict in and between nations. They illustrate how the deep malaise of modem secular society is leading to a backlash of alternative worldviews. This approach is culturally too simplistic in not providing a complex enough framework for understanding the dynamic social forces that constitute cultural identity. Instrumentalists admit that conflicts might be aggravated by diverging religious creeds but are rarel y if ever caused by them; instead most conflicts are about power and wealth. They emphasize the role played by political entrepreneurs, who use religion as an instrument to further their own goals. This approach is guilty of the other extreme - downplaying the role of religion and culture. Constructivists regard social conflicts as being embedded in cognitive structures like ideology, religion, nationalism and ethnicity. Constructivists can theorize about cultural identity, social structures, actors and forces together with the material world of power and wealth and are therefore best suited to give an adequate description of religion and political conflict. Despite its great promise constructivism still needs to step up to the board and deliver theories about religion and political conflict. The serious neglect of religion in political studies needs to be addressed and the most likely framework within which to do so seems to be constructivism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die skokkende terroriste aanvalle op die World Trade Center en die Pentagon in Amerika en die bom in 'n nagklub in Bali, Indonesië, het baie mense gedwing om die impak van godsdiens op politieke konflik ernstig te oorweeg. Die literatuuroorsig herondersoek die ernstige verwaarloosing van godsdiens in politieke wetenskap weer eens, deur te kyk na die drie benaderings wat ten opsigte van godsdiens en politieke konflik, op plaaslike en internasionale vlak geïdentifiseer kan word. Primordialiste glo dat verskille tussen gosdienstradisies gesien moet word as een van die vernaamste faktore vir politieke konflik binne en tussen nasies. Hulle beklemtoon die wyse waarop verskille in kulturele identiteit en kosmologie kan bydra tot gewelddadige konflik binne en tussen nasies. Hulle illustreer verder hoe die diep malaise van die moderne sekulêre samelewing besig is om te lei tot 'n teenreaksie van alternatiewe wêreldbeskouings. Die benadering is egter kultureel gesproke te simplisties deurdat dit nie 'n raamwerk kan skep wat kompleks genoeg is ten einde die dinamies sosiale kragte wat kulturele identiteit vorm, te verstaan nie. Instrumentaliste gee toe dat politieke konflik dalk deur uiteenloopende godsdienstige tradisies vererger kan word, maar dat dit selde indien ooit daardeur veroorsaak word. Inteendeel, die meeste konflik handel steeds oor mag en rykdom. Hulle beklemtoon die rol wat gespeel word deur politieke entrepreneurs, wat geloof as 'n instrument gebruik in die bevordering van hulle eie doelwitte. Die benadering is skuldig aan die ander uiterste - die rol van kultuur en godsdiens word as minder belangrik beskou. Konstruktiviste beskou sosiale konflik as gewortel in kognitiewe strukture soos ideologie, godsdiens, nasionalisme en etnisiteit. Konstruktiviste kan teoretiseer oor kulturele identiteit, sosiale strukture, akteurs en kragte saam met die materiële wêreld wat bestaan uit mag en rykdom, en is daarom die beste geskik om 'n voldoende beskrywing te gee van godsdiens en politieke konflik. Ten spyte van die belowende potensiaal van konstruktivisme moet die perspektief nog begin om teorieë oor godsdiens en politieke konflik te verskaf. Die ernstige verwaarloosing van godsdiens in politieke wetenskap moet ondersoek word en die beste benadering hiervoor blyk konstruktivisme te wees.

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