From separationism to theocracy : how the domestic relationship between religion and state conditions the salience of religion in foreign policy.




Kent, Jennifer M.

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The study of international politics has undergone a profound re-consideration of disciplinary assumptions about religion since the end of the Cold War. From Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations to Peter Berger’s Desecularization of the World, scholars are attempting to identify and explain the re-emergence of religion globally and decipher its meaning and ramifications for the conduct of international politics. Unlike power and economics, which are constant pressures in the international system, religion is not present everywhere at all times but in some circumstances and often erratically. This dissertation asks how it becomes possible—under what situations or circumstances—for religion to be a salient feature of a nation’s foreign policy. It hypothesizes that the domestic religion-state relationship affects the salience of religion in a state’s foreign policies and the ways in which religion is salient in a state’s foreign policies. This dissertation takes a comparative approach, selecting three cases that differ in their domestic religion-state relationships: the United States, Russia and Iran. A historical account of the domestic religion-state relationship in each case is provided as well as the ways in which religion has functioned as a salient feature in each state’s foreign policies historically. The comparative analysis focuses on the two-decade period immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The comparative analysis reveals that religion performs at least one function (legitimation, mobilization, or identity creation/delineation) at the foreign policy level in all three case studies. Religion is a more salient feature of Iranian foreign policy than of the foreign policies of either Russia or the United States. With some caveats, the ways in which religion functions in each state’s foreign policy is conditioned by the domestic religion-state relationship, such that American separationism limits the functionality of religion at the foreign policy level, the Russian symphonic relationship with religion at the domestic level enables a partnership model at the foreign policy level, and the Iranian theocratic model is consistent across the domestic policy-foreign policy divide.



Foriegn policy., Religion and foreign policy., Secularization., Russian foreign policy., Iranian foreign policy., Religion and international relations., Religion and comparative politics., Religion and comparative foreign policy., Comparative foreign policy., American foreign policy., Church-State relations.