Blind Spots and Blowback: Why Culture and Religion were Marginalized in International Relations Theory

  • Scott M. Thomas
Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


Religion can no longer be ignored. Did the tragic events on September 11 have something to do with culture and religion or were they about something else? If this is an important question to answer—and, another question is whether or not this is an important question (Paul Berman, for example, argues that we have to defend ourselves regardless of why people are attacking us)—then how should we go about trying to answer it? What kind of implications does the answer we come up with have for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, the war on terrorism, national security, or Western security more generally? Another set of questions are about the implications of the answer we come up with for promoting a dialogue between civilizations, international cooperation, and international development. What the right questions to ask about the impact of culture and religion in international affairs are, and how we should go about trying to answer them is now one of the most important questions in the study of international relations.


Foreign Policy International Relation Modernization Theory Blind Spot Rational Choice Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Garry Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), 15.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    David Lake, “Why Do They Hate Us?” The New York Times, January 15, 2002.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gabriel A. Almond, The Appeals of Communism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Donald Eugene Smith, “The Limits of Religious Resurgence,” in Emile Sahliyeh (ed.), Religious Resurgence and Politics in the Contemporary World (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), 33–48.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Grace Davie, Europe: The Exceptional Case, The Parameters of Faith in the Modern World (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 2002).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. N. Eisenstadt, “Multiple Modernities,” Daedalus, 129, 1 (2000): 1–30.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Grace Davie, Europe: The Exceptional Case, The Parameters Of Faith in the Modern World (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 2002);Google Scholar
  8. Linda Wood head with Paul Heelas and David Martin (eds.), Peter Berger and the Study of Religion (London: Routledge, 2001).Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Robert Wuthnow, Cultural Analysis: The Work of Peter L. Berger, Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, and Jurgen Habermas (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Lawrence Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    David C. Engerman, “The Romance of Economic Development and New Histories of the Cold War,” Diplomatic History, 28, 1 (2004): 23–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 11.
    Robert Wuthnow, “Understanding Religion and Politics,” Daedalus, 120, 3 (1991): 1–20.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Vicky Randall and Robin Theobald, Political Change and Underdevelopment (London: Macmillan, 1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 13.
    John Gray Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern (London: Faber & Faber, 2003).Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Doubleday/Anchor Books, 1967);Google Scholar
  16. Donald Eugene Smith (ed.), Religion and Political Modernization (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1974);Google Scholar
  17. Steve Bruce, God is Dead: Secularization in the West (Blackwell, 2002).Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Emmanuel Sivan, “Democracy, Catholicism, and Islam,” Arab Reform Bulletin, 2, 2 (2004).Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Jose Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    Peter L. Berger (ed.), The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion in World Politics (Grand Rapids/Washington, D.C.: William B. Eerdmans/Ethics & Public Policy Center, 1999;Google Scholar
  21. Peter L. Berger, “Postscript,” in Linda Woodward et al. (eds.), Peter Berger and the Study of Religion (London: Routledge, 2001), 189–198.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Will Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization, vol. IV (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1950);Google Scholar
  23. Will and Ariel Durant, The Age of Reason, The Story of Civilization, vol. VIII (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961).Google Scholar
  24. 20.
    Rodney Stark, “Secularization, R.I.P. (rest in peace),” Sociology of Religion, 60, 1 (1999): 247–273;Google Scholar
  25. Rodney Stark, “Secularization: The Myth of Religious Decline,” Fides et Historia, 30, 2 (1999): 1–19.Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    Robert N. Bellah, “Between Religion and Social Science,” in Robert N. Bellah (ed.), Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1970, 2nd edition, 1991), 237–259;Google Scholar
  27. Scott M. Thomas, “Religious Resurgence, Postmodernism and World Politics,” in John L. Esposito and Michael Watson (eds.), Religion and Global Order (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), 38–65.Google Scholar
  28. 22.
    Leo Gross, “The Peace of Westphalia, 1648–1948,” in Richard A. Falk and Wolfram F. Hanrieder (eds.), International Law and Organisation: An Introductory Reader (New York: J.B.L. Lippincott, 1968), 45–67;Google Scholar
  29. Daniel Philpott, “Westphalia and Authority in International Society,” Political Studies, 47, 3 (1999): 566–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 23.
    Roger Boyes, “Treaty that Created ‘Soil of Dispair,’” The Times (London), October 24, 1998.Google Scholar
  31. 24.
    Philip Windsor, “The Justification of the State,” in Michael Donelan (ed.), The Reason of States (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978), 171–194.Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    Klaus Bussmann and Heinz Schilling (eds.), 1648: War and Peace in Europe, vol. 1 (Munich: Bruckmann, 1998).Google Scholar
  33. 26.
    Daniel Philpott, “The Religious Roots of Modern International Relations,” World Politics, 52 (2000): 206–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 27.
    Carsten Bagge Laustsen and Ole Waever, “In Defence of Religion: Sacred Referent Objects for Securitization,” Millennium, 29, 3 (2000): 705–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 28.
    Martin Wight, Power Politics (London: Penguin, 1978);Google Scholar
  36. Michael Joseph Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990);Google Scholar
  37. Jack Donnelly, Realism in International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 29.
    Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979).Google Scholar
  39. 30.
    Daniel Philpott, “The Challenge of September nth to Secularism in International Relations,” World Politics, 55, 1 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 31.
    Roger Epp, “The Augustinian Moment’ in International Politics: Niebuhr, Butterfield, Wight, and the Reclaiming of a Tradition,” International Politics Research Paper no. 10 (Department of International Politics, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1991).Google Scholar
  41. 32.
    Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952),Google Scholar
  42. Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian Realism and Political Problems (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953);Google Scholar
  43. Eric Patterson (ed.), The Christian Realists: Reassessing the Contributions of Reinhold Niebuhr and his Contemporaries (New York: University Press of America, 2003).Google Scholar
  44. 33.
    Stanley Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Universe: the Church’s Witness to Natural Theology (London: SCM Press, 2002);Google Scholar
  45. Michael Loriaux, “The Realists and Saint Augustine: Skepticism, Psychology, and Moral Action in International Relations Thought,” International Studies Quarterly, 36 (1992): 401–420;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jean Bethke Elshtain, Augustine and the Limits of Politics (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  47. 34.
    George Kennan, “Foreign Policy and Christian Conscience,” The Atlantic, 203, 5 (1959): 44–49.Google Scholar
  48. 35.
    Joel H. Rosenthal, “Private Convictions and Public Commitments: Moral Man and Immoral Society Revisited,” World Policy Journal, 12, 2 (1995): 89–96.Google Scholar
  49. 36.
    David Brooks, ‘A Man On a Gray Horse,’ The Atlantic, September 2002.Google Scholar
  50. 37.
    Ian Hall, “History, Christianity and Diplomacy: Sir Herbert Butterfield and International Relations,” Review of International Studies, 28 (2002): 719–736;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Paul Sharp, “Herbert Butterfield, the English School and the civilizing virtues of diplomacy,” International Affairs, 79, 4 (2003): 855–878.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 38.
    Scott M. Thomas, “Faith, History and Martin Wight: The Role of Religion in the Historical Sociology of the English School of International Relations,” International Affairs, 77, 4 (2001): 905–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 40.
    Darryl S. L. Jarvis (ed.), International Relations and the “Third Debate”: Postmodernism and its Critics (New York: Praeger Publishers, 2002).Google Scholar
  54. 41.
    James Gunnell, The Descent of Political Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  55. 42.
    Craig Parsons, “Showing Ideas as Causes: The Origins of the European Union,” International Organisation, 56, 1 (2002): 47–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 43.
    Robert Wuthnow, Cultural Analysis: The Work of Peter L. Berger, Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, and Jurgen Habermas (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984).Google Scholar
  57. 44.
    Edward Luttwak, “The Missing Dimension,” in Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson (eds.), Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 8–19.Google Scholar
  58. 45.
    Martin Wight, Power Politics (London: Penguin, 1946, 1979), 213.Google Scholar
  59. 46.
    Fred Halliday “A Necessary Encounter: Historical Materialism and International Relation,” in Fred Halliday, Rethinking International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1994), 47–73;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Justin Rosenberg, The Empire of Civil Society: A Critique of the Realist Theory of International Relations (London: Verso Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  61. 47.
    Stephen Gill, Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 48.
    Colin Wight, “Philosophy of Social Science and International Relations,” in Walter Carlsnaes et al. (eds.), Handbook of International Relations (London: Sage, 2002), 23–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 49.
    Martin Hollis, The Philosophy of Social Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  64. 50.
    Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil, “Revisiting the ‘National’: Towards an Identity Agenda in Neorealism?” in Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil (eds.), The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1996), 105–128.Google Scholar
  65. 51.
    Kristen Renwick Monroe, The Economic Approach to Politics: A Critical Reassessment of the Theory of Rational Action (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Scott M. Thomas 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott M. Thomas

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations