Religion , Nationalism And Violence Essay

8238 words - 33 pages

Religion, Nationalism and Violence
Philip S. Gorski
Department of Sociology, Yale University
"Religious nationalism"? Until fairly recently, most social scientists and historians would have
regarded this conceptual construct as a contradiction-in-terms. Nationalism could replace
religion - could be an ersatz religion - but it could not co-exist with religion. No longer. A small
trickle of works on religious nationalism during the 1990s has given way to a veritable flood
during the last decade, not just in sociology but also in neighboring fields such as anthropology,
history, political science and even English.
This paper provides a selective survey of important trends within this quickly expanding
literature, focusing especially on three themes:
1) Historical dis/continuities between religious traditions and national identities. Scholars
once drew a sharp line between religion and nationalism, by invoking distinctions between the
religious and the secular and tradition and modernity. Today, critics have not only blurred these
distinctions but sometimes erased them altogether, by suggesting that even modern and secular
nationalisms are built on traditional and religious foundations. In particular, they have identified
Biblical notions of chosenness and covenant, with their emphasis on cultural uniqueness, political
autonomy, popular sovereignty and sacred homelands, as crystallizing, or at least prefiguring,
"modern" nationalisms.
2) Western vs. non-Western forms of religious nationalism. Revisionist accounts of Western

nationalism suggest a certain genealogy: on this account, Western nationalism: a) has its roots in
the Judeo-Christian strand of Middle Eastern monotheism; b) assumes a (putatively) secular form
in Europe sometime between the late 18th and early 19th centuries; and then c) diffuses to
non-Western countries via European colonialism. Recent work on religious nationalism suggests
that this genealogy is too simple. In Eastern Europe, for example, religious nationalism seems to
have crystallized around other tropes: martyrdom rather than chosenness, Christ rather than
Moses. Furthermore, recent work on non-Western nationalisms suggests that the Mosaic
discourse had "functional analogues." For instance, Roger Friedland has compellingly argued the
national identities of Iran, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Israel and Palestine are all "suffused with
religious narrative and myth, symbolism and ritual" (Friedland 2001: 129).
3) Religious nationalism, social integration, liberal secularism and collective violence. There
are political reasons for the increased scholarly attention to religious nationalism in recent years.
As Jonathan Fox has repeatedly demonstrated, there is a religious dimension to much collective
violence, indeed, by his reckoning, to most collective violence (riots, pogroms, civil wars, ethnic
conflicts and genocide). This has led some public commentators to argue that there is an...

Find Another Essay On Religion , Nationalism and Violence

Should Nationalism Be Suppressed? Essay

834 words - 3 pages people loosened the grasp that the monarchy had on the country. Some people may argue that nationalism should be suppressed because it leads to outbursts of radicalism and violence and a monarch provides stability. However, this idea is wrong because if violence is not used the people are ignored and are not taken seriously. The storming of the Bastille was one of the early expressions of nationalism in the French Revolution. This demonstrates

Resolving Conflicts Between Religion and Politics

1210 words - 5 pages Resolving Conflicts Between Religion and Politics The use of conflict to try and resolve political, religious or cultural differences has existed for centuries, Violence and the State are still two prevailing issues in our world today. It is often assumed that violence and fighting occurs between peoples of very different nationalities or cultures; that there differences are too great for there to ever be peace or

Factors of Creation of Nationalism

1672 words - 7 pages hailing it as a propitious concept, while others putting it down and viewing it in animosity. But what is more controversial & more complex would be the establishment of such. What effects its creation? What factors develop it? And what factors affect it the most? As with the topic of beauty, War, or Religion, nationalism and its roots are a again, a being of much controversy. Constantly being argued upon, assumptions of nationalism’s creation


604 words - 2 pages victory, American flags flew from almost ever house in honor of our hero's on the ice. Nationalism can also be shown in a negative manner to in an attempt to bring a cause or belief to the fore front. Terrorist of some countries and governments believe that violence can be a productive tool in changing national or international policies. The bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut is an example of this type of fanatical display of nationalism as

The Clash Between Nehruvian Secularism and Hindu Nationalism

2926 words - 12 pages communal violence resulted in 3.5 million people being displaced and a million people killed. This highlighted the major problems that faced India. Nehru took on secular ideals making India a secular state. This meant that India would not have a state religion but would maintain formal neutrality towards all religions and keep religion away from political decisions. Being a democratic country, Nehru had to instill democratic principles that would

The Role of Nationalism in German Unification: Three Post-Holed examples

2251 words - 9 pages ). This caused the people to think of themselves as Germans instead of by their religion, a goal that Bismarck had tried to achieve earlier. The Nazi party believed strongly in ethnic nationalism, that the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. They said that in order to be a true German, you had to be descended from a line of only German, or Aryan, people (National Socialism). By 1932, the Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, was the largest and

Nationalism: background and the big picture

587 words - 2 pages independently from a centralized point. Still another aspect of nationalism is the willingness to go to extreme measures in achieving autonomous self-rule. Revolutions, wars, ethnic tension, and other conflicts of varying degrees have occurred throughout history because of a love for one's country. The spirit of nationalism has shaped the histories and destinies of many countries. Nationalism can unite people into cohesive, stable nations

The Rise and Development of Nationalism in Meiji, Japan was a Result of Government Modernization Efforts

724 words - 3 pages The Rise and Development of Nationalism in Meiji, Japan was a Result of Government Modernization Efforts The rise and development of nationalism in Meiji Japan was a result of government modernization efforts. The ban on Christianity was lifted and the Meiji government practiced religion toleration. Foreign missionaries were allowed to propagate Christianity and carry out educational and medical work. However

Internationalism vs Nationalism: Case Studies

1227 words - 5 pages , that European priests opposed the use of Native medicines, and Native doctors all together. Among John's fellow kraal, there was widespread animosity towards Christianity. Slowly, they began turning away from the Europeans and Christianity and back towards their original religion. As time passed, they resumed their traditional ways, but the Europeans were wrong to have forced their religion on the African peoples. This type of nationalism leads

Nationalism in Mexico, Japan and India

1246 words - 5 pages and make the nation a more powerful country, grow economically, and become a supreme power. Nationalism helps a nation feel as one, it does not care about age, sex, religion, ethnicity or background, nationalism makes one have a sense of equality and importance to every single citizen in his nation. Nationalist sentiment can make a nation accomplish many things, only if its citizens work together as one.         Nationalism has a lot of

Compare and contrast the ideologies of Nationalism and Unionism in Northern Ireland politics

2574 words - 10 pages The ideologies of Nationalism and Unionism in Northern Irish politics have generated almost all of the conflict and violence that has risen out of the troubled nation over the last century. The ideas advocated by the two ideologies find themselves at great conflict with one another; Unionists support the inclusion of Northern Ireland as part of the UK while Nationalists argue for an independent unified Ireland. The fact that the two ideologies

Similar Essays

Reason And Religion: An Analysis Of Violence In The Qur'an And Its Impact On Islam

1352 words - 5 pages enough justification. Non-believers may see this as a delusion or perversion of reason. Believers will call it faith. In essence that is how all religions are perceived. Who is right or wrong will always be argued in vain, but such an argument can be accepted as a non-issue when dealing with religion. However, things get complicated when something like violence is involved. The problem with the Qur'an and any religious text that tries to justify

Myth, Religion, And Violence In Pan’s Labyrinth And Bless Me, Ultima: A Comparative Analysis

1398 words - 6 pages . Despite the fact that Antonio and Ofelia have different familial role models and travel along different paths, their childlike innocence, disillusionment, and initiation into adulthood comes about through similar themes: myth, religion, and violence. Bless Me, Ultima is about Antonio, the protagonist, who struggles with questions concerning religion and the local pagan myths. His mother, Maria, introduces him to Catholicism by sending him to

Nationalism Essay

1234 words - 5 pages where 800,000 people of the minority Tutsi tribe were massacred in a span of four months by people of the majority Hutu tribe. Such acts of violence can be seen across the world as people follow nationalism not by its original concept but instead make their own views and follow their own ideas and goals. Another example of nationalism being used for destructive purposes would be of the Nazis in WWII. Zimmerin, a political philosopher said that, "The

How Does Nationalism Solidify A Country?

1435 words - 6 pages ,” which helps create a person’s identity and political determination. To conclude, a nation not only determined by stability, history, economy but also culture, religion and ethnicity. What is nationalism? Nationalism is the idea of a sense of common identity to a particular geographical area. Before bourgeoisie, feudalism was implemented among countries, such as China, Japan and France. Under this hierarchy, there were different social