How Religious Are "Religious" Conflicts? Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Despite significant advances in our understanding of the politics of religious ideology and identity across time and space, scholars disagree on how to conceptualize religious conflicts and religious actors, and how to infer religious motivations from actors behavior. This Forum brings together scholars with diverse research agendas to weigh in on conceptual, methodological, and ethical questions surrounding the study of contemporary religious conflicts. We ask: How do we know when individuals and groups are acting on religious, as opposed to other, motivations? To what extent can analysts rely on actors own claims about their motivations? How does the secular bias affect scholarly research on religion and conflict? Is there a bias over which conflicts and actors come to be labeled and coded as religious by scholars, policymakers, and the media? The Forum fosters a debate aimed at identifying gaps within and between academic research and policy as well as media analyses on religion and political violence. The contributors examine contradictory conclusions by academics and policy analysts rooted in diverging assumptions and arguments about religious actors, religious motivations, and religious conflicts. The Forum proposes some ways for scholars to overcome these challenges as well as offers implications for policymakers and journalists who shape the public discourse.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Tabaar, M. A., Huang, R., Chandra, K., Finkel, E., Nielsen, R. A., Revkin, M. R., Vogt, M., & Wood, E. J.

complete list of authors

  • Tabaar, Mohammad Ayatollahi||Huang, Reyko||Chandra, Kanchan||Finkel, Evgeny||Nielsen, Richard A||Revkin, Mara Redlich||Vogt, Manuel||Wood, Elisabeth Jean

publication date

  • June 2023