Looking closely at a variety of cases of religious activism and terrorism around the world, one question emerges as central: Is religion inherently violent, or is it being used by violent political activists? The answer explored in this seminar is largely the latter―that religion is used for political purposes. Yet the religious imagination is not innocent. The images of warfare and justification for violence that exist in most religious traditions can magnify the significance of a conflict and make it more difficult to resolve a struggle peacefully. Thus, though religion is seldom the sole problem, it often is problematic – since it makes difficult situations more intractable.
About the Speaker
Professor Mark Juergensmeyer is director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a pioneer in the field of global studies and writes on global religion, religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics. He has published more than three hundred articles and twenty books, including the recent Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State (University of California Press, 2008). An earlier version of this book was named by the New York Times as a notable book of the year.