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  • Author: Michelle Nicholasen
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Centerpiece
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: From civil strife in Syria to the war in Yemen to US-Iran tensions, Shi'a groups are emerging as major players on the geopolitical landscape. The 200 million Shi'as around the world comprise 15–20 percent of all Muslims, yet little is understood about their culture, historical legacy, and political dynamics. Shi’as are the majority sect in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain, and comprise substantial minority groups in Africa, South and Central Asia, and countries throughout the Middle East. Last fall, the Weatherhead Center launched the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs to support advanced research on the diverse manifestations of Shi’ism, and to encourage rigorous scholarship on the political dynamics of its role in the Middle East. The project supports scholarship that increases understanding of the intersection between religion and politics in Islam by engaging political scientists, historians, policy makers, religious leaders, and other specializations at the WCFIA. It was a busy first year, replete with talks on important events in Islamic history, the geopolitics of Iraq, the US-Iran confrontation, and more. The project launched the online platform Visions, which offers advanced commentary on all aspects of Shi’a thought, politics, and society. Additionally, project members have travelled to Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq for field work and academic conferences, as well as to the United Kingdom to present research and conduct outreach. Team members have also travelled to various cities across the United States to give presentations and interactive workshops—including to Muslim-American communities in Dearborn, Michigan (home to the largest Arab-American population in North America) and Orlando, Florida—on the topic of religious pluralism, youth activism, Islamic thought, and civil society. Directed by Payam Mohseni, lecturer at Harvard University, the project is funded in part by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. We asked Payam Mohseni and project chairs Melani Cammett and Ali Asani about the motivations behind the Project on Shi’ism and Global Affairs.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Religion, Military Strategy, Political Activism, Domestic politics, Pluralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ladan Boroumand
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: The Islamic Republic of Iran is confronted with an unprecedented legitimacy crisis. This article, highlighting the heterodox character of Iran’s theocratic ideology, stresses the tectonic social and cultural changes that have resulted in society’s estrangement from the state over the past forty years in a reaction against this ideology. The nature and depth of these social and cultural changes point to a historic process that is taking Iran toward becoming the first Muslim-majority society to weave into its spiritual, social, and intellectual fabric the principled separation of religion and the state characteristic of the liberal-democratic worldview.
  • Topic: Religion, Culture, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Edward Aspinall, Marcus Mietzner
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Though pluralism and democracy are generally seen as being mutually supportive, recent developments in Indonesia suggest that they can also be in tension. Over the last five years, an old social cleavage separating pluralists from Islamists has been reactivated. In the 2019 presidential election, the incumbent, Joko Widodo, won by increasing support from religious minorities and traditionalist Muslims; his authoritarian-populist challenger, Prabowo Subianto, was backed by groups promoting a greater role for Islam in political life. Empowered by this socioreligious polarization, Widodo’s government has relied on increasingly illiberal measures to contain the populist-Islamist alliance, undermining some of Indonesia’s democratic achievements in the process.
  • Topic: Religion, Democracy, Secularism, Pluralism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Donald Kerwin, Mike Nicholson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: The effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrants, US families, and communities have been well-documented. However, less attention has been paid to their impact on faith-based organizations (FBOs). Faith communities provide a spiritual home, and extensive legal, resettlement, social service, health, and educational services for refugees and immigrants. This report presents the findings of the FEER (Federal Enforcement Effect Research) Survey, which explored the effects of US immigration enforcement policies on immigrant-serving Catholic institutions.[1] Many of these institutions arose in response to the needs of previous generations of immigrants and their children (Kerwin and George 2014, 14, 74-75). Most strongly identify with immigrants and have long served as crucial intermediaries between immigrant communities and the broader society (Campos 2014, 149-51).[2] Over its first two years, the Trump administration has consistently characterized immigrants as criminals, security risks, and an economic burden. Among its policy initiatives, the administration has supported major cuts in family-based immigration, attempted to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reduced refugee admissions to historic lows, instituted admission bars on Muslim-majority countries, attempted to strip Temporary Protection Status (TPS) from all but a fraction of its beneficiaries, erected major new barriers to asylum, and proposed new rules regarding the public charge grounds of inadmissibility that would make it more difficult for poor and working class persons to obtain permanent residence. US immigration enforcement policies have separated children from their parents, criminally prosecuted asylum-seekers, expanded detention, increased arrests of non-citizens without criminal records, and militarized the US-Mexico border. These policies have failed to stem the flow of migrants and asylum-seekers: instead these flows have increased dramatically in recent months. These policies have succeeded, however, in devastating children, instilling fear in immigrant communities, blocking access to the US asylum system, and undermining immigrant integration (Kerwin 2018).[3] The FEER survey points to a paradox. On one hand, US enforcement policies have increased the demand for services such as legal screening, representation, naturalization, assistance to unaccompanied minors, and support to the US families of detainees and deportees. Many Catholic institutions have expanded their services to accommodate the increased demand for their services. On the other hand, their work with immigrants has been impeded by federal immigration policies that effectively prevent immigrants from driving, attending gatherings, applying for benefits, and accessing services for fear that these activities might lead to their deportation or the deportation of a family member. Among other top-line findings, 59 percent of 133 FEER respondents reported that “fear of apprehension or deportation” negatively affected immigrants’ access to their services, and 57 percent of 127 respondents reported that immigrant enforcement very negatively or negatively affected the participation of immigrants in their programs and ministries.
  • Topic: Migration, Religion, Border Control, Immigrants, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, North America
  • Author: Hadi Gamshadzehifar
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Institution: Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
  • Abstract: This study investigates the response of the Baloch Sunni ethno-religious minorty towards the assimilationist approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It argues that the Iranian theocratic political system uses an assimilationist approach and tries to assimilate the Baloch-Sunni into Shia Persain dominated ethno-religious group; but, this policy has been resisted by different strata of the society. The study finds that although there is a general consensus among the Baloch Sunnis to uphold their ethno-religious values, each segment of the Baloch Sunni society is combatting the central government’s ethno-religious policy on its own way depending on the means available, ranging from cultural efforts to political and military activities.
  • Topic: Religion, Military Strategy, Sunni, Shia, assimilation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Maryam Azam
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: The rise of sectarian groups in Pakistan has sprouted many internal challenges for the state as well as for the society. The issue of sectarianism is directly linked with the security and harmony of Pakistani society as it has culminated into a grave internal security challenge causing violence and loss of human life. The institutionalization of these groups and their role in the political landscape of Pakistan reflects their complicated nature, objectives and the overall discourse on which these groups are built. Despite the fact that government in various time periods have banned these sectarian militant groups but they were able to operate in shadows or under the banner of different names and roles. This piece of research aims to explicate their multidimensional roles and their capacity to operate and affect the security paradox as well as society as a whole
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Religion, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Shamaila Hamid
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: This article focuses on the gap that exists among the genders as a result of political socialization in the Christian religious minority within Punjab, Pakistan. A study in this regard was carried out in four major districts of Punjab namely Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi. A sample of 400 was surveyed during Dec 2017-Jan 2018. The data were collected using multi stage sampling. The results of the study indicated that gender plays an important role in voting behavior. There is a huge difference in political awareness of men and women. Men are more politically aware and their level of knowledge surpasses that of women from their community. Where men are more independent in their decision making regarding whom to vote or not to vote, women are largely dependent on males of family in forming their political decisions.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Politics, Religion, Minorities, Elections, Christianity
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Usman Bashir, Iram Khalid
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: This study is focused on the impact of religion on the electoral pattern of the people of Punjab. Religion as a determinant of voting behavior is best expressed in the votes secured by the religious parties. Thus, religious parties vote in Pakistan and Punjab is studied to build an argument. Religion has a strong impact on human life. It influences each act and attitude of the individual especially in developing countries. In Pakistan; religion has a solid affect in shaping the political attitudes and beliefs of the individuals. It is one of the key elements of politics.2018 general elections saw a sudden rise in the vote bank of religious political parties. It witnessed a 2.17 % increase in the religious vote country wide and 1.32% increase in Punjab. Tahreek Labbaik Pakistan appeared on the scene as a radical Sunni Islamic party, it mobilized the barelvi vote bank to great effect. And it emerged as the third largest party of Punjab, in terms of votes polled. 2018 general elections also witnessed the rise of Milli Muslim League which was a political wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who were previously rejecting the parliamentary form of government and were critical of voting in elections. The increase in the influence of the various spiritual gaddi nasheen in the electoral politics of Punjab was also a prominent factor during the 11th general election.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Punjab
  • Author: Ammara Tabassum, Umbreen Javaid
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, came to India by ship following the sea routes. While some historians also believe that St. Thomas came to India by crossing Asia Minor West Taxila, north Thatta, and afterwards, he settled in India. There is a consensus among historians that St. Thomas first reached Taxila which was then ruled by a Buddhist king, Gonophores. All of the historians relate the meeting of St. Thomas met with Gonophores. According to the current historical publications, it was in the 3rd century when Christians reached India and settled in the North West and they were called Thomai or Christians of St. Thomas while they are named as Thomai in the present day. In 72 A.D Hindu Brahmins martyred St. Thomas in Mylapore and now the Shrine of St. Thomas is situated in Chennai, India. Thousands of people come to Chennai and visit his shrine. The shrine of St. Thomas is the evidence of Christian presence in India in the 1st century. A king, Kanishka, attacked Taxila; he plundered, devastated and robbed the people, causing ruin. This forced the early Christian settlers to disperse and migrate towards Northern Punjab and Central India. Though Mughal Empire governed the Subcontinent for 200 years yet in this long period they were unable to affect the Hinduism and Christianity. Islam is considered as minority during the period of Mughal Empire. During the period of Mughal Empire some Muslim Emperor forced the Punjabi Christians to enter the fold of Islam and many Christians accepted Islam and those who did not, were targeted and scattered
  • Topic: Religion, History, Christianity, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India, Punjab
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternative Politics
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey
  • Abstract: This research provides three additional insights into the concept of tolerance. First, it provides empirical insights to the previous research, distinguishing between two dimensions of tolerance; political tolerance and social tolerance. Second, it investigates the extent these two dimensions of tolerance prevail in different civilizations in the world. Third, it shows how etiology of tolerance differs across civilizations. In short, this research shows that tolerance of national and religious groups differs from tolerance of social groups in both kind and degree and investigates to what extent the prevalence and etiology of these two dimensions of tolerance differ across civilizations. In this research time series evidence from subsequent rounds of the World Values Survey (WVS) for over seventy countries are analysed using Ordered Probit models.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Religion, Social Movement, Tolerance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus