On the Theological Origins and Character of Secular International Politics
: Towards Post-Secular Dialogue

  • Ludwig Gelot

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


At the turn of the 21st century, the global resurgence of religion is posing a direct challenge to a Westphalian international system which upholds secular politics as the most peaceful, stable, and universal foundation for international relations. The aim of this thesis is thus to interrogate the secular dimension of the contemporary political foundation as well as the beliefs and assumptions that shape IR‘s historical foresight so that international dialogue may be facilitated. Through the reconsideration of the secularisation process, I demonstrate that the Westphalian secular order emerged through the usurpation, translation, and appropriation of important religious resources found within Christianity. Far from being universal or neutral, the current foundation of international politics has theological origins and a religious character to which it is oblivious. In turn, this implies that secularism‘s overconfidence in its own neutrality and objectivity may be a threat to the preservation of peace and security. In the name of value pluralism, IR must distance itself from its secularist history. Therefore, what is required is to reconsider the way IR relates to religion with a view to strengthening political independence and international freedom and to forestalling value conflicts. If IR is to facilitate genuine global cooperation, it must reconsider its secular foundation and exchange it for a post-secular project in which secularism and religion are considered on an equal footing. In the interest of peace and security pluralism should rethink its assumptions concerning the inevitability of secularisation and exchange its secularism for the establishment of a 'post-secular' dialogue with religion.
Date of Award29 Apr 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council
SupervisorAndrew Linklater (Supervisor) & William Ward Bain (Supervisor)

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