The so-called ‘resurgence’ of religion in the public sphere in recent decades is now a significant area of academic study and societal interest, provoking a complex set of responses, ranging from vehement opposition to the very idea that religious concepts and commitments have a right to expression in public, political debates to a reassessment of the origins and implications of divisions between the secular and the religious and their relationship to the nation state. Religion is, nonetheless, increasingly a prominent factor within the current global geopolitical landscape. A ground-breaking new course, MA Religion in Global Politics, offered by SOAS University of London provides an opportunity to examine the complex nature of the relationship between religion and politics, in both an historical and a contemporary context, within the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The programme offers a comprehensive overview of the various debates around the nature of the secularism in global perspective and the role of religion in the public sphere, in order to attend to the central issue of how ‘the secular’ is constituted, understood, and instantiated in both domestic and international or transnational contexts. Other related themes are the relationship between religious discourses and political violence, the legislative difficulties presented by contradictions in liberalist political principles, multiculturalism, migration and religious identity, theocratic conceptions of the state, the role of religion in identity politics and transnational institutions, and state responses to religious identity claims and priorities.
The MA programme is unique: it has a distinctive regional focus, and draws on a wealth of multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives from a wide range of other subject disciplines, including Law, Politics and International Relations, Philosophy, Development, Anthropology, Migration and Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies, enabling students to become familiarised with the most contemporary debates regarding such subjects as religion in the public sphere, secularisms, postsecularism, and political theology.
The range of course options on the programme is unparalleled, ensuring that students will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary, intellectually rigorous, and regionally focused programme.
The MA Religion in Global Politics is particularly designed to appeal to policy-makers, analysts, journalists and researchers in either international, national or regional institutions and organisations engaged in policy formation, inter-religious dialogue and community development, social work, development, conflict resolution, peace building or diversity management. It will also provide a solid basis from which to pursue doctoral study.