Beyond the "Religious Turn": International Relations as Political Theology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


IR’s inhospitality to religion is not sui generis; its aversion to alien forms of religiosity arises from its inability to code that religiosity into a familiar vernacular. If, indeed, the major political concepts in Western IR are secularized variants of the Christian mental landscape, IR embodies a provincial and provincializing political theology. The character of IR as a provincial discourse, therefore, rests less in ontological divergence than cosmological make-up. Naturalized as a secular discourse, a particularized form of religiosity that informs IR easily escapes cognizance. The principal implication of reading IR as political theology in this manner is neither the discovery of religious roots to the discipline nor the recognition of a specter of religion haunting modern political concepts, but the awareness of an essential religious alterity that is produced as a constitutive basis of the discipline. The main sources of provincialism lie deeper—in the recesses of political theology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sage Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations
EditorsAndreas Gofas, Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Nicholas Onuf
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSAGE Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781473966598
Publication statusPublished - 08 Sept 2018


  • Political Theology
  • International Relations
  • Religion
  • Alterity
  • Decolonization


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