Dogma, Praxis, and Religious Perspectives on Multiculturalism

  • Cecelia Lynch
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


The first of these quotes is from a scholarly treatise on the prob- lem of alterity and violence in allegedly ethnic politics in the Balkans. It points to the imposition of religious identity from the outside—not by religious fundamentalists but rather by those (in this case, some Serbian leaders) for whom fixed notions of alterity rationalize conflict, as well as by others (the Western press and diplomatic corps, the UN) who attempt to mediate and “resolve” violence. The second quote is a Western journalist’s account of an Islamic school in Pakistan. It demonstrates the distrust of Islamic “fundamentalism” (itself a controversial label) prevalent in Western media and government circles, and also expresses the author’s Orientalist determination to understand the school’s teachings on his terms rather than their own.4 The third quote forms part of a fictional narrative about the neocolonialist clash of power and religion in the Congo. It also highlights the arrogance that accompanied much Christian missionary activity in Africa, even in the second half of the twentieth century. Each of these quotes, however, also indicates, in different ways, the degree to which our debates about religion in world politics reflect Enlightenment assumptions. That is to say, each associates religion with danger, dogma, or rigid conceptions of otherness.


Religious Belief Religious Identity World Politics International Politics Faith Tradition 
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    Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Education of a Holy Warrior,” New York Times Magazine, 25 June 2000, 36.Google Scholar
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    Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible ( New York: HarperCollins, 1998 ), 26.Google Scholar
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    Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other ( New York: HarperCollins, 1992 ), 249.Google Scholar
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    Charles Taylor with K. Anthony Appiah, Jürgen Habermas, Steven C. Rockefeller, Michael Walzer, and Susan Wolf, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, ed. Amy Gutman ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994 ).Google Scholar
  5. 28.
    S. Wesley Ariarajah, Gospel and Culture: An Ongoing Discussion within the Ecumenical Movement ( Geneva: World Council of Churches Publications, 1998 ), 7.Google Scholar

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© Pavlos Hatzopoulos and Fabio Petito 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecelia Lynch

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