The causes of religious wars : holy nations, sacred spaces, and religious revolutions
Author(s)Gregg, Heather Selma, 1971-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Stephen Van Evera.
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In the wake of September 11th, policy analysts, journalists, and academics have tried to make sense of the rise of militant Islam, particularly its role as a motivating and legitimating force for violence against the US. The unwritten assumption is that there is something about Islam that makes it bloodier and more violence-prone than other religions. This dissertation seeks to investigate this assertion by considering incidents of Islamically motivated terrorism, violence, and war, and comparing them to examples of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu bellicosity. In doing so, it aims to evaluate if religious violence is primarily the product of beliefs, doctrine and scripture, or if religious violence is the result of other factors such as cultural, political, social and economic circumstances. This dissertation focuses on religious wars--wars, terrorism, and violent conflicts that have saliently religious goals, specifically battles to defend holy nations, sacred spaces and revolutions aimed at creating religious governments-and tests three variables for their ability to explain the conditions under which religious wars arise: threat perception, the intertwining of political and religious authority, and the amount of resources available to a given religious group.(cont.) It argues that religious violence is the result of specific interpretations of a religion's beliefs and scriptures, not the religions per se, and that violent interpretations of a religion are the product of individuals-usually religious leaders-who are grounded in specific circumstances. Therefore, in order to understand the conditions under which these violent interpretations of a religion occur, one needs to identify, first, who is interpreting the religion and by what authority; second, the social, political and economic circumstances surrounding these violent interpretations; and third, the believability of these interpretations by members of religious communities.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, February 2004.Includes bibliographical references (p. 505-529).This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology