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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Religion and International Relations in the Middle East as a Challenge for International Relations (IR) Studies

Department of Regional and Global Studies, Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland
Religions 2020, 11(3), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030150
Received: 25 February 2020 / Revised: 19 March 2020 / Accepted: 19 March 2020 / Published: 24 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and International Relations in the Middle East)
This article addresses the search for religion’s “suitable place” within International Relations (IR), taking as a starting point the social changes in the world (“reflexive modernity”) and the postulated “Mesopotamian turn” in IR. The assumption is that religion is present at each level of IR analysis in the Middle East and, thanks to that, more and more at the international system level. This presence of religion serves to undermine one of the basic assumptions lying at the heart of the modern international order (and therefore also IR), i.e., the so-called “Westphalian presumption”. The author, inter alia, emphasizes how more attention needs to be paid to the “transnational region” constituted by the Middle East—in association with the whole Islamic World. A second postulate entails the need for a restoration of the lost level of analysis in IR, i.e., the level of the human being, for whom religion is—and in the nearest future, will remain—an important dimension of life, in the Middle East in particular. It can also be noted how, within analysis of IR, what corresponds closely to the level referred to is the concept of human security developed via the UN system. The Middle East obliges the researcher to extend considerations to the spiritual dimension of security, as is starting to be realized (inter alia, in the Arab Human Development Reports). It can thus be suggested that, through comparison and contrast with life in societies of the Middle East as it is in practice, religion has been incorporated quite naturally into IR, with this leaving the “Westphalian presumption” undermined at the same time. The consequences of that for the whole discipline may be considerable, but much will depend on researchers themselves, who may or may not take up the challenge posed. View Full-Text
Keywords: religion in IR; Middle East; “Mesopotamian turn” in IR; “Wesphalian presumption”; levels of analysis; human security religion in IR; Middle East; “Mesopotamian turn” in IR; “Wesphalian presumption”; levels of analysis; human security
MDPI and ACS Style

Solarz, A.M. Religion and International Relations in the Middle East as a Challenge for International Relations (IR) Studies. Religions 2020, 11, 150.

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