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Religion and Politics

CSoC Research Theme for 2023-2024

  • "State and religion are twin brothers", postulates an old Iranian aphorism.

    The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy and religious thought, and in research in the humanities and social sciences.

    Religion and politics are two spheres of human creativity and action that stimulate some of the most important cultural achievements and social institutions, as well as arouse fantasies of power, sublime emotions, depraved fraudulence, and horrid destruction. Often intermingled and entwined, their impact on societies is tremendous, since they shape their very structure, elicit revered texts, and spawn belief systems that mobilize the masses. Furthermore, within these spheres of activity evolved major currents of thought, social movements, and power structures whose members collaborated, competed, and clashed with one another. Religious commitments may conflict with the demands of politics, and vice versa, but religious beliefs and practices also potentially support politics in many ways.


    In the academic year of 2023-2024, The Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters (CSoC) in the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) proposes to study the interplay between these two spheres of human thought and action from several perspectives. We invite research proposals for innovative work based in the humanities and social sciences, that seek to explore:

    • * Theories on state and religion.

    • * Theories on the relations between secular and religious power structures

    • * Case studies of religion as a legitimating force of political actors; socio-political institutions that draw on religious values; political patronage to religious institutions and elites

    • * Case studies of tensions: contestations and clashes between religious and political foci of power such as popes and heads of dynasties and empires; Sufi brotherhoods and rulers

    • * Religious wars, or wars that draw on religious justifications

    • * The establishment of political power through religious discourse and religious leaders

    • * The impact of religion on the public sphere and civil society

    • * The infiltration of religious ideas into socio-religious arenas: law, education, health

    • * Artistic representations of the relations between secular and religious power structures​

For Research Themes of previous years, click on the relevant link below:

2019-2020 Violence and its Justification in the Abrahamic Religions.docx

2020-2021 Materials and Materiality.docx

2021-2022 Rethinking Center and Periphery in the Abrahamic Religions.docx

2022-2023 Religion and the Natural Environment.doc

2023-2024 Religion and Politics.doc