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3016GIR The Politics of Identity: Religion & Globalisation Research

3016GIR The Politics of Identity: Religion & Globalisation

Research Project


The Research Project allows for 2 choices, from which students will choose 1 only:


1. Case Study Paper Task

Description: Students will research and write an essay of 2500-3000 words on an event/issue (contemporary or historical) where religious and/or cultural identities and values have been involved in social conflict, whether resolved or ongoing. This can be in relation to gender, sexuality, secularisation, socio-economic conditions (health, poverty, work-relations etc.), or religious discrimination and persecution (e.g., Rohingya in Myanmar, Ahmadiyya in Indonesia/Pakistan, Uighurs in China, and many more). Some more issue-based examples include polygamy, abortion, same-sex marriage, banning of religious dress, LGBTQIA+ rights and recognition, media treatment of religion, religion and colonisation (or decolonisation), slavery, witch hunts, FGM and health issues, marriage – dowries, treatment of widows, etc., and many more. Students might also investigate how religions or religious actors have been involved in a case of conflict resolution.


The essay should analyse the historical and contemporary conditions underlying the conflict and/or issue, identify its main causes or origins to form the thesis (argument) of the paper, and make an informed judgement about its future trajectory (if it is a current topic).


2. Thematic Research Essay

Task Description: Students will research and write an essay of 2500-3000 words on one of the weekly course themes. A list of suggested questions is provided below.


Thematic Essay Questions


Does the domestic political relationship between religion and the state influence a country’s foreign policy? (e.g., USA, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.)


Has the rise of identity politics in the twenty-first century been progressive or regressive?


Why has identity politics superseded modern left-right politics based on socio-economic divisions in societies?


Have the world’s religious traditions been a barrier or contributor to the realisation of universal human rights?


Are the world’s religions implicated in the democratic “backsliding” of the early twentyfirst century?


Why has International Relations (IR) theory failed to deal adequately with religion? Would incorporating religion into IR theory enhance our understandings of world politics in the twenty-first century?


What do scholars mean by the ‘Easternisation of the West’? Is this a valid characterisation of contemporary Western societies?


Evaluate the causes of the ‘religious resurgence’ from the literature? Which explanatory factors are most persuasive?


Should the religious resurgence be considered a constituent element of the globalisation process or something reacting against it?


What critiques of late-modern capitalist society do all religious fundamentalists share? Do they have any validity?


States such as Israel and Pakistan were founded as homelands for national groups defined by a religious identity. How has this affected their internal cohesion and relations with neighbouring countries?


Evaluate the main processes and influences that explain the rise of ‘spirituality’ in contemporary Western societies.


Analyse the tension in liberal, multicultural societies between pluralism and ‘illiberal’ religious minorities? Can these tensions be resolved?


Critically evaluate the tension between globalisation, immigration and the rise of populist and far right political parties in recent years.


What constitutes ‘a post-secular age’? Is it valid to characterise the 21st century in this way?

What are the sources of contemporary religious nationalism in Asia? (e.g., Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka and Myanmar; Hindu nationalism in India; Islam in Malaysian national identity).


What accounts for the rapid expansion of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (PCC) in the global south in recent decades?


Why is religious violence considered to be unique compared with other forms of organised violence?


Is there a fundamental irreconcilability between religion and nationalism, or are they able to accommodate one other?


Do civil religions remain viable in fostering national unity in diverse, multi-ethnic societies? (e.g., USA, Indonesia)


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