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Genocide and Religion in Times of War  

Manus I. Midlarsky

To understand the relationship between religion and genocide in time of war, one needs to distinguish between sacred and secular political religions. Among the genocidal events inspired by political religions based on sacred texts are the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the Sack of Magdeburg, the British Civil War in Ireland, and Bosnia. I also examine several groups pursuing a genocidal agenda claiming religious justification: al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Civil religions and secular political religions discussed are the French Revolution, Italian Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinist Communism. Lacking the restraints found in traditional religions, secular political religion is most dangerous. Large-scale genocides are best explained by diachronic processes entailing subordination followed by gain and then loss by the perpetrators. The presence of loss in various forms is found in virtually all cases. Emotions that typically do not influence routine politics—such as anger and fear—are engaged. All of the cases, even those of minimal loss, are influenced by international events. Without the presence of war, genocides like the Holocaust, and those of the Armenians and Tutsis, are inconceivable. Even as an exclusionary ideology, traditional religion is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for all forms of genocide in time of war. But religion can be an enabler that together with other antecedents can lead to genocide. Sacred religious sites can be sensitive locations whose violation inspires violence. Radicalization of religious leaders can occur when their religion appears to be under attack, especially during or following a period of widespread violence.

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Mexico: The Evolution of a Multiparty State  

Nora Hamilton and Patrice Olsen

Several distinct features have shaped Mexico’s political development, among them its geographic characteristics, including its proximity to, and shifting relations with, the United States; the existence of a significant indigenous population whose distinct cultures and interaction with the Spanish colonists helped determine the trajectory of Mexican history; and the Mexican revolution, which in turn shaped the political system and ideology of much of the 20th century. These in turn have influenced research issues and debates, including (a) conceptualizations of the indigenous populations and the impact of colonialism (caste system vs. mestizo/cosmic race), growing emphasis on size and identity of indigenous groups and other minorities, and the search for autonomy by indigenous communities; (b) foreign relations, and especially the impact of the United States, including annexation of half of Mexico’s territory following the Mexican–American War, foreign ownership and control of Mexican assets (dependent development, “triple alliance”), and the impact of globalization and neoliberalism (outward- vs. inward-oriented development, North American Free Trade Agreement, cross-border alliances); (c) the nature and impact of the Mexican revolution, including origins and goals of distinct revolutionary groups, the Constitution, reforms and their limits in the early postrevolutionary period, and the creation of a unique political system combining elements of flexibility and repression; (d) the role of the state, including debates regarding the independence of the state vs. class control, and its significance in the protection of national interests and promoting social reforms and economic development; and (e) migration, including U.S. recruitment of Mexican labor, increasing emphasis on the Mexican border and restrictions on migrants, contributions of Mexican migrants to Mexico (remittances, hometown associations and other associations linking Mexicans to their home communities), and cooperation of Mexico with the United States in controlling Central American migration. International research issues, including concerns about human rights and the rights of women, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, as well as developments in Mexico in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, have also had an important impact on Mexican research, among them (a) democratization, including the role of social groups, decentralization, and the limits to democracy (ongoing corruption, fraudulent elections, and continued poverty and inequality), and (b) the drug issue, including the emergence of the cartels and increased violence with the militarization of the drug war under the Calderón presidency, policy concentrating on kingpin strategy, and the role of the United States as drug market and supplier of guns as well as a source of assistance in the drug war focused on military aid and the destruction of drug producing areas. These conditions present formidable challenges to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose anticorruption, proreform agenda and widespread support brought hope for change.