Special Issue "Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 7945

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gladys Ganiel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, United Kingdom
Interests: religion, conflict and reconciliation; religion and conflict in Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and South Africa; religion and change on the island of Ireland; evangelicalism; the emerging church movement
Dr. Joram Tarusarira
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, 9712 GK Groningen, The Netherlands
Interests: religion, conflict and reconciliation; religion and politics; religion and human security; climate-induced conflicts, peace and security; Zimbabwe, community development; civil society and social movements

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The relationships between religion, conflict and peacebuilding are contested and complex. Challenges to the “myth of religious violence” have problematised Western secular/sacred dichotomies, prompting reflection on the relationship between the religious and the political in conflicts (William Cavanaugh, Karen Armstrong). R. Scott Appleby’s influential emphasis on the “ambivalence of the sacred” has highlighted how religion can be a source of both conflict and peace, an observation that has been supported by a host of empirical case studies from around the world. John Paul Lederach’s pioneering approach to conflict transformation has highlighted the impact of faith-based actors in peacebuilding, in conjunction with myriad other factors.

Scholars have continued to theorise the “religious factor” in conflict and in peacebuilding, stimulating debates about the relationship between religion and the state/political power, religion’s embeddedness in civil societies, the importance of religious ideas/theologies, rituals and discourses of forgiveness and reconciliation, religion and human security, the strengths and limitations faith-based actors bring to peace processes, and more.

This Special Issue aims to provoke debate on established theoretical concepts in the study of religious conflict and peacebuilding while at the same time providing a platform for the emergence of new concepts and theoretical approaches. It also will emphasise the link between empirical case studies and theoretical development in the study of religious conflict and peacebuilding, encouraging contributions that offer compelling new perspectives and examples from the field.

We welcome submissions from a range of academic disciplines, including interdisciplinary work. We seek contributions that examine any conflict with religious dimensions in both the Global South and the Global North and that engage with world religions (in all their diversity) as well as traditional religions.

To that end, contributions are encouraged that:

  • Interrogate the concept of “religious conflict”, questioning the appropriateness and application of this term;
  • Analyse the “religious factor” in conflict, engaging with the idea that religion functions as a surrogate for political conflicts;
  • Examine the impact of secularisation and/or re-sacralisation on approaches to religious conflict and peacebuilding;
  • Offer cross-national comparisons of the role of religion in conflict and/or peacebuilding;
  • Use empirical case studies to formulate new concepts or theories;
  • Reveal fresh insights on the role of groups that have been neglected in the study of religion, conflict and peacebuilding, including women, indigenous groups, youth, “traditional” religions, and more;
  • In the context of new challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, examine the role of religion in contributing to polarisation or resilience and human security.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 4 June 2021. Proposal abstracts of up to 200 words should be sent to the guest editors via email: Gladys Ganiel <[email protected]> and Joram Taursarira <[email protected]>. The deadline for final manuscript submissions is 31 December 2021.

Dr. Gladys Ganiel
Dr. Joram Tarusarira
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Religion and Conflict
  • Religion and Peacebuilding
  • Religious Violence/Terrorism
  • Reconciliation
  • Forgiveness

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Read the Signs: Detecting Early Warning Signals of Interreligious Conflict
Religions 2022, 13(4), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13040329 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 631
Abstract
Building on recent directions in religion-related social and political science, our essay addresses the need for location-specific and religion-specific scientific research that might contribute directly to local and regional interreligious peacemaking. Over the past 11 years, our US–Pakistani research team has conducted research [...] Read more.
Building on recent directions in religion-related social and political science, our essay addresses the need for location-specific and religion-specific scientific research that might contribute directly to local and regional interreligious peacemaking. Over the past 11 years, our US–Pakistani research team has conducted research of this kind. We have developed a social scientific method for diagnosing the probable near-future behavior of religious stakeholder groups toward other groups. By integrating features of ethnography, linguistics, and semiotics, the method enables researchers to read a range of ethno-linguistic signals that appear uniquely in the discourses of religious groups. Examining the results, we observe, firstly, that our religion and location-specific science identifies features of religious group behavior that are not evident in broader social scientific studies of religion and conflict. We observe, secondly, that our science integrates constative and performative elements: it seeks facts, and it serves a purpose. We conclude that strictly constative fact-driven sciences may fail to detect certain crucial features of religious stakeholder group behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
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Article
The Road to Reconciliation—Insights from Christian Public Theology
Religions 2022, 13(3), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030230 - 08 Mar 2022
Viewed by 659
Abstract
Once primarily situated within religious contexts, reconciliation has since become an established concept in peace and conflict studies. The exact meaning of this concept remains disputed. This contribution takes the sometimes heated debates one step back as it seeks to return to the [...] Read more.
Once primarily situated within religious contexts, reconciliation has since become an established concept in peace and conflict studies. The exact meaning of this concept remains disputed. This contribution takes the sometimes heated debates one step back as it seeks to return to the roots of the religious dimensions of reconciliation in order to shed light on its meaning and use for peace and conflict studies today. Using Christian Public Theology as a framework, the author delineates several hallmarks on the road to reconciliation. While the metaphoric “road to reconciliation” must not be misunderstood as a linear progression with a predictable result, it does indicate that certain milestones are likely to be encountered on this path. These include remembrance, repentance, confession of guilt, forgiveness and justice. As the author draws out the religious dimensions of these concepts, a deeper understanding of the meaning of reconciliation emerges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
Article
Divine Discomfort: A Relational Encounter with Multi-Generational and Multi-Layered Trauma
Religions 2022, 13(3), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030214 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 854
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and will continue to be, exposed to young democracies who are grappling with deep-seated multi-generational and multi-layered traumas which are embedded in past and present conflicts as well as injustices. In the lead-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, South [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and will continue to be, exposed to young democracies who are grappling with deep-seated multi-generational and multi-layered traumas which are embedded in past and present conflicts as well as injustices. In the lead-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa, being a young democracy, has experienced an increase in anger, violence and vengeance due to on-going poverty, lack of service delivery, housing and land, etc., at all levels of society. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the injustices that are based on the legacy of generational trauma and pain that are caused mainly by an unjust political system, centuries of colonialism, violence, and conflict. These injustices have also exposed the commitment and promises that the religious sector made, during the hearing of the faith communities at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), to the reconstruction and development of the country as well as to reconciliation and healing of the nation. Since South Africa became a democracy, the transition process, the first democratic election, the TRC process, political promises, corruption and currently the COVID-19 pandemic have restrained the state of trauma in the country. This restraint has led to a state of frozenness. This contribution argues that the concept of divine discomfort and specifically the notions of accountability and justice can contribute to exploring new ways for religion to deal with the eruption of multi-generational and multi-layered ‘frozen trauma’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
Article
Religious Environmental Sensemaking in Climate-Induced Conflicts
Religions 2022, 13(3), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030204 - 28 Feb 2022
Viewed by 856
Abstract
This article used the case of the Pokot community in northern Kenya to argue that focusing only on technical approaches in dealing with conflicts induced by climate change neglects the deeper religio-spiritual mechanisms that motivate actors in such conflicts and give the latter [...] Read more.
This article used the case of the Pokot community in northern Kenya to argue that focusing only on technical approaches in dealing with conflicts induced by climate change neglects the deeper religio-spiritual mechanisms that motivate actors in such conflicts and give the latter their texture. For example, the sacred connection with cattle, forests, and land, or the spiritual blessings of cattle raiders in times of competition over dwindling resources raise questions concerning whether and how indigenous religions’ sacred beliefs and practices contribute to finding peaceful solutions to such conflicts and advancing the discourse of religious peacebuilding. This article deployed the concept of religious environmental sense-making to argue that framing climate-induced conflicts in sacred terms influences how actors position themselves within them, as well as their level of intensity and intractability. Answering this question is crucial to advancing the field of peacebuilding, understanding what propels actors in climate-induced conflicts, and comprehending how policy-makers and mediators in conflicts can develop locally grounded strategies to address such climate issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
Article
‘The March Is Not Ended’: ‘Church’ Confronting the State over the Zimbabwean Crisis
Religions 2022, 13(2), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020107 - 22 Jan 2022
Viewed by 864
Abstract
The Zimbabwean crisis has been on-going since the year 2000. The various ecumenical bodies of the church in Zimbabwe have been voicing their concerns to the state through meetings and pastoral letters. While the church has been touted as a critical player in [...] Read more.
The Zimbabwean crisis has been on-going since the year 2000. The various ecumenical bodies of the church in Zimbabwe have been voicing their concerns to the state through meetings and pastoral letters. While the church has been touted as a critical player in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, concerns about the church have been raised. One of these has been the issue of a divided organization that has failed to speak with one voice. With the coming into power of the so called ‘Second Republic’, hopes were raised that the state would be willing to have the crisis resolved. However, the crisis has just worsened, and the church has again been forced to break its silence. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the pastoral letter that was issued by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference on 14 August 2020, titled ‘The March is not Ended’, which sought to respond to the crisis in Zimbabwe. The paper seeks to establish what religious groups can achieve in the event that they set aside their differences for the common good in conflict situations. Data for the paper were gathered through the issued pastoral letter, as well as the responses to it on online media. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
Article
Presbyterians, Forgiveness, and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland: Towards Gracious Remembering
Religions 2022, 13(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13010041 - 01 Jan 2022
Viewed by 538
Abstract
The transformative potential of forgiveness has been lauded in theory but its outworking on the ground has proved more challenging. Drawing on a study with 122 Presbyterians in post-violence Northern Ireland, this article returns to debates on forgiveness. We propose a modest role [...] Read more.
The transformative potential of forgiveness has been lauded in theory but its outworking on the ground has proved more challenging. Drawing on a study with 122 Presbyterians in post-violence Northern Ireland, this article returns to debates on forgiveness. We propose a modest role for religious discourses on forgiveness, situated within a wider process of political forgiveness. We advance ‘gracious remembering’ as a contextual, faith-based, transitional concept for helping create conditions in which political forgiveness may become more likely. Drawing on our empirical study, as well as the work of Northern Irish public theologian Johnston McMaster, gracious remembering is orientated around a vernacular understanding of grace and utilizes a four-fold framework to guide grassroots and civil society dialogues about the past: (1) the rehumanizing of the other by acknowledging the human cost of violence, (2) giving victims a public voice, (3) engaging in self-critical reflection, and (4) listening to alternative interpretations of events. Overall, we seek to demonstrate that religious discourses and social scientific framings of political forgiveness need not be opposed; and forgiveness and remembering need not be opposed. Ultimately, we argue for the value of faith-based contributions in post-violence settings, but with ample recognition of their limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
Article
Religion and the Study of Peace: Practice without Reflection
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1069; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121069 - 03 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1577
Abstract
Religion can be good and bad. For too long, the field of religion and peace has repeated this argument, cogently articulated by R. Scott Appleby in his field shaping The Ambivalence of the Sacred. It is time to examine whether there are [...] Read more.
Religion can be good and bad. For too long, the field of religion and peace has repeated this argument, cogently articulated by R. Scott Appleby in his field shaping The Ambivalence of the Sacred. It is time to examine whether there are other arguments to be made. The field of religion and peace is multifaceted and has grown exponentially in recent decades, primarily by enhancing various sites of policy making to mobilize “good” religion more effectively for its utility while devising more complex mechanisms to contain “bad” religion. This is not a bad development in and of itself and many actors populating the religion and peace spaces of practice do a lot of good in the world. However, without also subjecting the field to critique of its basic operative categories of analysis, the field in its various nodes will remain just that: practice, without reflection to recall Paolo Freire’s critical pedagogical approach to transforming the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Conflict and Peacebuilding: Advances in the Field)
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