KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Research areas

Project Religion in International Politics

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Claus Leggewie

Religion as a global power – on the influence of religion on international politics

The major world religions, with their claim to universality and their geographical distribution, are among the most important driving forces behind globalization, but at the same time, are also under pressure to adapt. Observers have seen a worldwide return to religion in politics, accompanied by a politicization of religion – and hold the loss of identity and orientation due to globalization responsible for this.

On the other hand, the reference to the message of religions proclaiming and bringing peace is nothing new, as is the case for the awareness that religion is used as a criterion for demarcation and exclusion and the instrumentalization of religion in social and political conflicts. What is new, on the other hand, is the global scale on which and the immediacy with which religion can now promote either peace or conflict. For a policy of crisis prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping it is thus essential to deal systematically with religion as a factor in these issues.

In their institutionalized forms the major religions influence national foreign policy and even prove to be - in very different ways - global actors in international politics. Their normative claim and their actions influence the thinking, behavior, ethics and living conditions of a vast number of people, beyond borders, traditions and cultures. With their normative claim they stand in contrast or even competition – both with regard to each other and the central themes of secular politics – although in part their interests also overlap. This is especially evident where regional and global setting of standards takes place, be it in the European Union, the OSCE or, in particular, the United Nations.

Religion and the religions have, without a doubt, gained new significance for international politics in the era of globalization. Normally the relationship between religion and politics at the national level is at the centre of interest, so the main focus of interest of this research project is rather to take a closer look and gain a better understanding of the complex relationship between religion and politics at an international level, in order to then be in a position to outline the diverse paradigms of the exertion of influence by religion in global society.

Following an international conference held in cooperation with the German Foreign Office’s working group on global issues (Arbeitsstab Globale Fragen) in November 2007, the KWI plans to expand this key area of activity by organizing more workshops, conferences and research projects.
Reference to publication by Leggewie in "Global Trends 2010"

pdf iconBibliographie mit Online-Publikationen zum Thema Religion
pdf iconBibliographie zum Thema Religion in der Internationalen Politik
pdf iconInstitutionen im Themenbereich "Religion und Politik"