Cfp: ‘What is a “War of Religion”?’, 2015 EISA Conference

Call for papers: ‘What is a “War of Religion”?’, 9th Pan-European Conference of the European International Studies Association (EISA) (Section on ‘Transnational Religion, Dialogue and Conflict’, convened by Jeff Haynes and Luca Ozzano)
Wednesday 23 – Saturday 26 September 2015, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy,
Convenors: Rodolfo Ragionieri, and Debora Spini,

Prospective participants can propose a paper, by sending an abstract of up to 200 words by mail to the convenors at and by January 15, 2015.

Theoretical and empirical research on war and conflict has substantially argued that war is a multicausal event. Howwever, war is always political: if we assume Hedley Bull’s (or Norberto Bobbio’s) definition of war as organised violence between political groups, this is a tautology. Thus, all wars labelled in history and contemporary politics as “wars of religion” have had a substantial political issue, like control of territory or decision about power within a state. As examples of typical wars of religion, we can bring respectively the insurrection in the Flanders and the civil war in France, both in the second half of the XVI century. However, how can we state when and whether religion is among the causes of a certain war? First of all, what does it mean that a belief system is a “cause of war”? We could argue that this happens when a belief system concurs to give shape to the identity, and thus to the subjective motivations of war, of at least one of the parties.
As O’Cavanaugh puts it in his The Myth of Religious Violence (2009), “Historians generally acknowledge—as political theorists do not—that other factors besides religion were at work in the wars of religion: political, economic, and social factors. The question then becomes: what is the relative importance of the various factors? Are political, economic, and social factors important enough that we are no longer justifi ed in calling these wars ‘of religion’?” This question does not refer obviously only to the wars usually labelled as “wars of religion”, but to any war where religious identity plays a role. I agree with Cavanaugh that it is impossible to separate strictly religion from other causes of wars, but I also think that this does not exclude religions from the causes themselves.

This panel aims at discussing the definition and the typology of this type of wars and the interplay, in this framework, of religion, identity, power and violence. Subjects could be:
1. Religion as a main cause of war (Hutchinson) vs. “the myth of religious violence” (O’Cavanaugh).
2. Are some religions more war-prone than others (e.g., Assman and monotheism)?
3. The role of religions in the constructions of non-negotiable identities
4. Defining a “religion war” with respect to war aims
5. Defining a “religion war” with respect to actor’s identities
6. Typologies of “religion wars” .

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