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Chapter 20. Nationalism and Religion

Mark Juergensmeyer

Subject Religion

Key-Topics nationalism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631232162.2006.00022.x


The extraordinary events of September 11, 2001, provided a dramatic demonstration of the resurgence of politicized religion in the contemporary age. Though politics have been an aspect of every religion throughout history, a particularly strident form began to assert itself shortly before the dawn of the twenty-first century. Even before the Twin Towers of New York City's World Trade Center crumbled into dust, the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden had been implicated in a series of terrorist incidents, most of them aimed at the global military and economic power of the United States. Other movements of religious activism, from the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution in Iran to the Khalistani movement of Sikhs in Northern India, targeted the political leaders of their own countries. In bin Laden's case the goal was transnational. In most other instances of religious politics, including the Iranian and Sikh cases, the goal was a new form of religious nationalism. Both movements rejected the secular nationalism that had been the central feature of European Enlightenment since the eighteenth century. In most cases the new religious movements were reactions to the spread worldwide of secular modernity. They were responses to the insufficiencies of what is often touted as the world's global political standard: the secular, Westernized constructs of nationalism that are found not ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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