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date: 03 December 2022

Religion, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgencylocked

Religion, Insurgency, and Counterinsurgencylocked

  • Jason KlocekJason KlocekDepartment of Sociology, University of Notre Dame

Summary

The academic study of religion and irregular warfare has expanded considerably since the turn of the 21st century—driven by both global events such as 9/11 and empirical studies that find armed rebellions with religious dimensions to be longer, bloodier, and more difficult to resolve than nonreligious conflicts. Most of this research focuses on the religious, usually radical, ideas and practices of insurgent groups. Of particular interest has been the way religion shapes the motivations and means of guerrilla fighters. Less attention has been paid to the role of counterinsurgent armies in irregular, religious wars. Following the U.S.-led invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, a few initial studies explored how state forces misunderstand or ignore the religious dynamics of armed conflict. A growing body of research since the mid-2010s has pushed further, cataloguing a more varied set of ways counterinsurgent forces account for religion in combat and information operations. Moving forward, studies that look at both sides of the battlefield need to expand their empirical emphases, as well as more directly address a common set of challenges to the broader study of religious violence—how best to conceptualize, measure, and analyze the religious dynamics of war. Future scholarship should also consider research designs that test the causal processes purported to link religion with conflict outcomes and pay increased attention to the interaction between insurgent and counterinsurgent forces.

Subjects

  • Conflict Studies
  • Identity
  • Security Studies

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