Special Issue "Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2021) | Viewed by 16468

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jocelyne Cesari
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
1. Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
2. Department of Government, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA
Interests: religion and politics; political Islam
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In Europe and the United States, religion has become a significant component of the growing nationalist and supremacist political groups which contest the fundamental rights of religious, sexual, or racial minorities in the name of their religious identity. Outside Western secular democracies, the rise of religious claims not only impinges on civil rights but also on the rule of law and democratic life in general.

This Special Issue will examine the religious dimension of populism and nationalism across countries, religious traditions, and historical periods. To do so, it will for the first time bring together scholars of religion and politics to comparatively explore the rise of extreme-right movements in Europe and the white supremacist groups in the USA, but also rise of authoritarian figures in Turkey, Russia, and India. To that effect, we are inviting contributions from different disciplines, addressing specific case studies in and beyond the West as well as thematic and theoretical approaches across case studies.

Prof. Dr. Jocelyne Cesari
Guest Editor

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

  • populism
  • religion
  • nationalism
  • interdisciplinary approach

Published Papers (10 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Faith in Nations: The Populist Discourse of Erdogan, Modi, and Putin
Religions 2022, 13(5), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050445 - 16 May 2022
Viewed by 165
Abstract
Despite its global rise, theoretical frameworks to capture populism have been derived primarily from case studies in the Western hemisphere. To assess if and how the premises of populism travel across different contexts, we offer a comparative analysis of populist discourses in Turkey, [...] Read more.
Despite its global rise, theoretical frameworks to capture populism have been derived primarily from case studies in the Western hemisphere. To assess if and how the premises of populism travel across different contexts, we offer a comparative analysis of populist discourses in Turkey, India, and Russia, countries with different political contexts and religions. The content analysis of 1682 speeches of Erdoğan, Modi, and Putin shows that they depart from their European and American counterparts because they are neither nativist nor inclusive. Instead, they introduce a new notion of “people” anchored in a religiously defined community, interpret the nation’s past to achieve their own political goals, and identify different driving forces to restore their lost global role. A comparison of Erdoğan, Modi, and Putin highlights the blind spots of existing studies, which fail to carefully contextualize the term, thus obscuring the country-specific constituents of populist discourses and the role of religions. Understanding the regional variants of populism not only helps us capture the reasons behind the leaders’ appeal and resiliency but also their so-called unexpected actions and decisions, such as Putin’s territorial and religious claims over Ukraine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Political Mobilisation of Religious, Chauvinist, and Technocratic Populists in Indonesia and Their Activities in Cyberspace
Religions 2021, 12(10), 822; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100822 - 01 Oct 2021
Viewed by 827
Abstract
Populism has been on the rise in many countries. As a result, studies on populism have proliferated. However, there are very few studies that investigate and compare different types of populisms in a single nation-state. Furthermore, how these different populists in the same [...] Read more.
Populism has been on the rise in many countries. As a result, studies on populism have proliferated. However, there are very few studies that investigate and compare different types of populisms in a single nation-state. Furthermore, how these different populists in the same political milieu use cyberspace has not been comparatively studied. This study addresses these gaps by looking at a variety of populist forces within Indonesia that have emerged as major actors and identifying the uses of cyberspace in populist political mobilisation. This paper argues that the three main types of populism that predominate in political rhetoric (religious, chauvinistic, and technocratic) do not exist in isolation but rather borrow from each other. This is reflected in their cyberspace activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Religion and Populism in the Global South: Islamist Civilisationism of Pakistan’s Imran Khan
Religions 2021, 12(9), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090777 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1818
Abstract
The fusion of religion and populism has paved the way for civilisationism. However, this significant issue is still unresearched. This paper attempts to address this gap by investigating the Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Islamist populism and civilisationism as an empirical case study. [...] Read more.
The fusion of religion and populism has paved the way for civilisationism. However, this significant issue is still unresearched. This paper attempts to address this gap by investigating the Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Islamist populism and civilisationism as an empirical case study. While Islamism has been explored in the context of Pakistan, this paper goes beyond and investigates the amalgamation of Islamist ideals with populism. Using discourse analysis, the paper traces the horizontal and vertical dimensions of Imran Khan’s religious populism. The paper provides an understanding of how “the people”, “the elite”, and “the others” are defined at present in Pakistan from an antagonistic and anti-Western civilisationist perspective. The paper finds that “New Pakistan” is indeed a “homeland” or an idolized society defined by Islamist civilisationism to which extreme emotions, sentimentality and victimhood are attached. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Islamic Populism in Turkey
Religions 2021, 12(9), 752; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090752 - 13 Sep 2021
Viewed by 738
Abstract
In the last two decades, multiple Islamic parties have become incumbent parties and/or joined coalition governments. Such a development brought debate as to whether these parties could moderate into democratic actors à la Christian Democratic Parties in Western Europe, or whether they were [...] Read more.
In the last two decades, multiple Islamic parties have become incumbent parties and/or joined coalition governments. Such a development brought debate as to whether these parties could moderate into democratic actors à la Christian Democratic Parties in Western Europe, or whether they were aiming at the formation of an Islamist state and society through electoral means. What remains relatively unaddressed in the literature, however, is to what degree Islamic parties truly derive their socio-political agenda from Islam. Hence, this paper will ask, how do Islamic parties utilize Islam? To answer this question, this paper will use a single case-study approach to test and to rethink Islamic political parties and what is “Islamic” about them in the Turkish case. This paper will study the Turkish case because the country’s incumbent party, the Justice and Development Party (JDP), has been governing Turkey since 2002, making the Party the longest ruling Islamic party still in power. Based on the literature on populism, this paper will argue that the way the JDP utilized Islam can be characterized as populism flavored by religion that is based on (i) a thin theological foundation, (ii) a majoritarian rather than a multivocal interpretation of Islam, and (iii) a Muslim unity rhetoric. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Religion in Creating Populist Appeal: Islamist Populism and Civilizationism in the Friday Sermons of Turkey’s Diyanet
Religions 2021, 12(5), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050359 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1535
Abstract
Drawing on the extant literature on populism, we aim to flesh out how populists in power utilize religion and related state resources in setting up aggressive, multidimensional religious populist “us” versus “them” binaries. We focus on Turkey as our case and argue that [...] Read more.
Drawing on the extant literature on populism, we aim to flesh out how populists in power utilize religion and related state resources in setting up aggressive, multidimensional religious populist “us” versus “them” binaries. We focus on Turkey as our case and argue that by instrumentalizing the Diyanet (Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs), the authoritarian Islamists in power have been able to consolidate manufactured populist dichotomies via the Diyanet’s weekly Friday sermons. Populists’ control and use of a state institution to propagate populist civilizationist narratives and construct antagonistic binaries are underexamined in the literature. Therefore, by examining Turkish populists’ use of the Diyanet, this paper will make a general contribution to the extant literature on religion and populism. Furthermore, by analyzing the Diyanet’s weekly Friday sermons from the last ten years we demonstrate how different aspects of populism—its horizontal, vertical, and civilizational dimensions—have become embedded in the Diyanet’s Friday sermons. Equally, this paper shows how these sermons have been tailored to facilitate the populist appeal of Erdoğan’s Islamist regime. Through the Friday sermons, the majority—Sunni Muslim Turks are presented with statements that evoke negative emotions and play on their specific fears, their sense of victimhood and through which their anxieties—real and imagined—are revived and used to construct populist binaries to construct and mobilize the people in support of an authoritarian Islamist regime purported to be fighting a “civilizational enemy” on behalf of “the people”. Finally, drawing on insights from the Turkish case, we illustrate how the “hosting” function of the civilizational aspect plays a vital role in tailoring internal (vertical and horizontal) religious populist binaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Collective Identity and Christianity: Europe between Nationalism and an Open Patriotism
Religions 2021, 12(5), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050339 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1303
Abstract
Times of crisis push human beings, a clannish creature, to retreat into closed societies. Anthropologically, this can be explained with concepts such as pseudospeciation, group narcissism, or parochial altruism. Politically, the preference for closed societies results in our modern world in nationalism or [...] Read more.
Times of crisis push human beings, a clannish creature, to retreat into closed societies. Anthropologically, this can be explained with concepts such as pseudospeciation, group narcissism, or parochial altruism. Politically, the preference for closed societies results in our modern world in nationalism or imperialism. Henri Bergson’s distinction between static and dynamic religion shows which type of religion promotes such tendencies of closure and which type can facilitate the path toward open society. Bergson rejected nationalism and imperialism and opted for an open patriotism with its special relation to dynamic religion. Dynamic religion relativizes political institutions such as the state and results today in an option for civil society as the proper space where religions can and must contribute to its ethical development. It aligns more easily with a counter-state nationhood than with a state-framed nationalism. Whereas Bergson saw in Christianity the culmination of dynamic religion, a closer look shows that it can be found in all post-Axial religions. Martin Buber, Mohandas Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Abul Kalam Azad, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan exemplify this claim. After World War II, Catholic thinkers such as Jacques Maritain or Robert Schuman by partly following Bergson chose patriotism over nationalism and helped to create the European Union. Today, however, a growing nationalism in Europe forces religious communities to strengthen dynamic religion in their own traditions to contribute to a social culture that helps to overcome nationalist closures. The final part provides a positive example by referring to the fraternal Catholic modernity as it culminates today in Pope Francis’ call for fraternity and his polyhedric model of globalization that connects local identity with universal concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Nations under God: How Church–State Relations Shape Christian Responses to Right-Wing Populism in Germany and the United States
Religions 2021, 12(4), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040254 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1542
Abstract
Right-wing populists across many western countries have markedly intensified their references to Christianity in recent years. However, Christian communities’ reactions to such developments often vary significantly, ranging from disproportionate support in some countries to outspoken opposition in others. This paper explores the role [...] Read more.
Right-wing populists across many western countries have markedly intensified their references to Christianity in recent years. However, Christian communities’ reactions to such developments often vary significantly, ranging from disproportionate support in some countries to outspoken opposition in others. This paper explores the role of structural factors, and in particular of Church–State relations, in accounting for some of these differences. Specifically, this article explores how Church–State relations in Germany and the United States have produced different incentives and opportunity structures for faith leaders when facing right-wing populism. Based on quantitative studies, survey data, and 31 in-depth elite interviews, this research suggests that whereas Germany’s system of “benevolent neutrality” encourages highly centralised churches whose leaders perceive themselves as integral part and defenders of the current system, and are therefore both willing and able to create social taboos against right-wing populism, America’s “Wall of separation” favours a de-centralised religious marketplace, in which church leaders are more prone to agree with populists’ anti-elitist rhetoric, and face higher costs and barriers against publicly condemning right-wing populism. Taking such structural factors into greater account when analysing Christian responses to right-wing populism is central to understanding current and future dynamics between politics and religion in western democracies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Religion, Populism and Politics: The Notion of Religion in Election Manifestos of Populist and Nationalist Parties in Germany and The Netherlands
Religions 2021, 12(3), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030178 - 09 Mar 2021
Viewed by 997
Abstract
This article is about the way that the notion of religion is understood and used in election manifestos of populist and nationalist right-wing political parties in Germany and the Netherlands between 2002 and 2021. In order to pursue such enquiry, a discourse on [...] Read more.
This article is about the way that the notion of religion is understood and used in election manifestos of populist and nationalist right-wing political parties in Germany and the Netherlands between 2002 and 2021. In order to pursue such enquiry, a discourse on the nature of manifestos of political parties in general and election manifestos specifically is required. Election manifestos are important socio-scientific and historical sources. The central question that this article poses is how the notion of religion is included in the election manifestos of three Dutch (LPF, PVV, and FvD) and one German (AfD) populist and nationalist parties, and what this inclusion reveals about the connection between religion and populist parties. Religious keywords in the election manifestos of said political parties are researched and discussed. It leads to the conclusion that the notion of religion is not central to these political parties, unless it is framed as a stand against Islam. Therefore, these parties defend the Jewish-Christian-humanistic nature of the country encompassing the separation of ‘church’ or faith community and state, the care for the historical and cultural heritage of church buildings, and the subordination of the freedom of religion to the freedom of expression. The election manifestos also reveal that Buddhism and Hinduism are absent in the discourses of these political parties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Exclusionary Populism and Islamophobia: A Comparative Analysis of Italy and Spain
Religions 2020, 11(10), 516; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11100516 - 10 Oct 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1803
Abstract
Exclusionary populism is well known for twisting real grievances of the citizens, by problematizing the gap between “us” and “them”, capitalizing on identity lines, calling out as “others” those who do not share “pure people’s” identity and culture. Especially after 9/11, Muslims have [...] Read more.
Exclusionary populism is well known for twisting real grievances of the citizens, by problematizing the gap between “us” and “them”, capitalizing on identity lines, calling out as “others” those who do not share “pure people’s” identity and culture. Especially after 9/11, Muslims have become the ideal-type of “other”, making Islamophobia the primary populist anti-paradigm. This article contributes to the burgeoning literature on Islamophobic populism analyzing the presence of Islamophobia in the electoral discourse of Vox party in Spain and Lega in Italy. In addition, it makes a novel contribution by discussing and testing the existence of different models of Islamophobia, distinguishing between “banal Islamophobia” and “ontological Islamophobia”. Applying clause-based semantic text analysis—including qualitative and quantitative variables—to thirty speeches by the two party leaders, Santiago Abascal and Matteo Salvini, during the last three elections (General, Regional and European), the paper concludes that, despite the similarities, the two politician display two different models of Islamophobia. Whereas Abascal displays a clear “ontological Islamophobia”, depicting Muslims ontologically incompatible with Spanish civilization (defined precisely by its anti-Muslim history), the latter presents a mix of arguments that oscillate between “ontological” and “banal” Islamophobia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Article
Right-Wing Populism and Religion in Europe and the USA
Religions 2020, 11(10), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11100490 - 27 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4277
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to examine comparatively the growth and political effectiveness of right-wing populism in Western Europe, Central Europe, and the USA since 9/11. The focus is on such politicians’ vilification of Islam as a faith and Muslims as a [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to examine comparatively the growth and political effectiveness of right-wing populism in Western Europe, Central Europe, and the USA since 9/11. The focus is on such politicians’ vilification of Islam as a faith and Muslims as a people. The paper examines the following research question: how and why do right-wing populists in the USA and Europe use an ideological form of “Christianity”, known variously as “Christianism” or “Christian civilizationism”, to vilify Muslims and Islam? The political purpose seems obvious: to influence public perceptions and to win votes by questioning the desirability of Muslims in both the USA and Europe, claiming that Muslims’ religious and cultural attributes make them unacceptable as neighbors. As Muslims are not capable, so the argument goes, of assimilating to European or American norms, values, and behavior, then they must be excluded or strongly controlled for the benefit of nativist communities. Right-wing populists in both the USA and Europe pursue this strategy because they see it as chiming well with public opinion at a time of great uncertainty, instability, and insecurity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion, Nationalism and Populism across the North/South Divide)
Back to TopTop