Postsecularism and international relations

Authored by: Luca Mavelli , Erin K. Wilson

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138826991
eBook ISBN: 9781315643922
Adobe ISBN:


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Postsecularism has gained increasing relevance within and beyond international relations (IR) in recent years. Within IR, the term has been employed primarily in two different yet interconnected ways. First, postsecularism has operated descriptively to explain the return or resilience of religious traditions in modern life. This has produced two different responses. On the one hand, scholars have attempted to develop conceptual frameworks that move beyond the dominant assumptions of secularisation theory in order to explain religion’s surprising persistence in late modernity. On the other hand, there have been calls for the development of new models of politics able to include religious views. Such calls represent the second and more innovative meaning attributed to postsecularism, in which it operates as a form of radical theorising and critique prompted by the idea that values such as democracy, freedom, equality, inclusion, and justice may not necessarily be best pursued within an exclusively immanent secular framework. Quite the opposite, the secular may be a site of isolation, domination, violence, and exclusion.

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