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ECPR Rising Star Award

Religion and Foreign Affairs

Foreign Policy
Section Number
Section Chair
Anne Jenichen
Aston University
Section Co-Chair
Mariano Barbato
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

The role of religion in the foreign affairs of states and regional organizations is still relatively unexplored. Religion can influence this policy field through different avenues. Certain understandings of religion and secularism, for example, can become part of a state’s or organization’s identity, affecting how it interacts with others. Religious groups might have different ideas about goals and strategies than (secular) governments, therefore trying to influence their foreign conduct. Differing attitudes within their constituencies, some of them driven by religious affiliation, as well as their own religiosity, might also affect how policy-makers in democracies formulate their external policies. Last but not least, foreign policies often differ in how they deal with issues of religion abroad, whether they ignore them due to a secularist bias or incorporate ideas on religion in their understandings of problems and definitions of appropriate solutions. These policies, however, are not always only motivated by normative considerations. Strategic interests often have their share as well, leading to intended as well as unintended consequences on the ground.

The section seeks to further our theoretical and empirical understanding of the role of religion in the field of foreign policy. It focuses on the intertwining between ‘the religious’ and ‘the secular’ in the foreign affairs of states from a theoretical perspective. It aims at assessing the organization and impact of religious actors as key transmitters of religious ideas into foreign policy. The section furthermore explores whether and how religion matters in the foreign conduct of the alleged ‘stronghold of secularization’, Europe. Last but not least, it scrutinizes policies of international religious freedom, which have become prominent in the foreign conduct of many states in the last couple of years.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P008Across the Atlantic: Conceptualizing Religion and Religious Freedom in American and European Foreign Policy Traditions View Panel Details
P305Religious Actors: Foreign Policy Beyond the State? View Panel Details
P365Southeast Europe: Challenges and Prospects of Religious Influence in Foreign Affairs View Panel Details
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