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Beyond Religious Freedom:
The New Global Politics of Religion
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Paperback | 2017 | $22.95 | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691176222
216 pp. | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400873814 |
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How international relations got religion, and got it wrong, Monkey Cage

International religious freedom agenda will only embolden ISIS, Religion Dispatches

A Q&A with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

In recent years, North American and European nations have sought to legally remake religion in other countries through an unprecedented array of international initiatives. Policymakers have rallied around the notion that the fostering of religious freedom, interfaith dialogue, religious tolerance, and protections for religious minorities are the keys to combating persecution and discrimination. Beyond Religious Freedom persuasively argues that these initiatives create the very social tensions and divisions they are meant to overcome.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd looks at three critical channels of state-sponsored intervention: international religious freedom advocacy, development assistance and nation building, and international law. She shows how these initiatives make religious difference a matter of law, resulting in a divide that favors forms of religion authorized by those in power and excludes other ways of being and belonging. In exploring the dizzying power dynamics and blurred boundaries that characterize relations between "expert religion," "governed religion," and "lived religion," Hurd charts new territory in the study of religion in global politics.

A forceful and timely critique of the politics of promoting religious freedom, Beyond Religious Freedom provides new insights into today's most pressing dilemmas of power, difference, and governance.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is associate professor of political science at Northwestern University. She is the author of The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton) and the coeditor of Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age and Politics of Religious Freedom.


"Admirably combative. . . . Consistently thought provoking."--Jonathan Benthall, Times Literary Supplement

"[This] book deserves a wide readership. . . . Hurd brings a theoretically sophisticated understanding of 'religion' to an area of study traditionally conducted by those in political science or international affairs. . . . Ideal for use in the classroom."--Michael Graziano, Religion in American History blog

"Maybe Hurd is amongst the ‘experts' that the ‘governed' or rather governors are listening to. If not, they might pick up this book."--Stewart Rayment, Interlib

"This book represents a profound and meticulously documented argument for the unavailability of religion for projects of moderation, division, and bifurcation into good and bad religion. . . . It will make an excellent reading for undergraduate and graduate courses on Islam, Secularism, and Modernity, Middle Eastern Politics, religion and politics, and on theories and methods in Religion Studies."--History News Network

"Hurd's critique of religious freedom achieves a degree of adamantine persuasiveness rare for any scholarly argument."--Jeremy F. Walton, The Immanent Frame

"This book is not a trade wind but a typhoon. In Heisenbergian ways, it does not just observe; it intervenes in an entire field of activism, policy, and scholarship."--Benjamin Schonthal, The Immanent Frame

"A signpost book, and the directions it provides are more precise than merely ‘beyond.' It guides the reader through approaches to religion in IR theory, charts original maps of complex situations of inequality, and sets the landmark for critical analysis, which future debates in the field can effectively build on."--Kristina Stoeckl, St. Antony's International Review


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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xiii
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Two Faces of Faith 22
Chapter 3 International Religious Freedom 37
Chapter 4 Religious Engagement 65
Chapter 5 Minorities under Law 85
Chapter 6 Beyond Religious Freedom 109
Notes 129
Bibliography 173
Index 193

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