Religious Nationalism

A Reference Handbook

by Atalia Omer and Jason A. Springs


Religion nationalism is a complex topic fraught with sensitive questions. Does religion cause violence? Is nationalism a quasi-religion? Are the constant conflicts around the world really about religion, or is religion merely a form of false consciousness? Is religious nationalism primarily a powerful tool political elites use to manipulate the masses?

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Cover image for Religious Nationalism

February 2013


Pages 328
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Religion/Politics

This book tackles the assumptions behind common understandings of religious nationalism, exploring the complex connections between religion, nationalism, conflict, and conflict transformation.

Religious Nationalism: A Reference Handbook challenges dominant scholarly works on religious nationalism by identifying the preconceptions that skew analysis of the phenomenon dubbed "religious nationalism." The book utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that draws insight from theories of nationalism, religious studies, peace research, and political theory, and reframes the questions of religious nationalism within the perspectives of secularism, modernity, and Orientalism. In doing so, the author enables readers to uncover their own presumptions regarding the role of religion in public life.

Unlike other works on this subject, the work outlines connections between the analysis of the role of religion in conflict to thoughts regarding how religion may relate to processes of peacebuilding and conflict transformation, and further connects the discussion of religious nationalism to broader conversations on the so-called resurgence of religion. The book will serve advanced high school and college students studying religion, international relations, and related subjects while also appealing to a wide audience of readers with an interest in questions of religion and politics.


  • Speeches of political and religious leaders
  • Chronologies of conflicts in such places as Israel-Palestine, Sri Lanka, and the former Yugoslavia


  • Grounds complex theoretical discussions in concrete examples of conflicts from recent history
  • Challenges the presuppositions inherent in conventional modes of analyzing religious nationalism as a pathology
  • Focuses not only on conflict and violence, but on identifying how and why a complex analysis of the role of religion in conflict may also inform constructive work in conflict transformation and peace-building
  • Connects the discussion of religious nationalism to broader concerns with the so-called global resurgence of religion
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

Atalia Omer, PhD, is assistant professor of religion, conflict, and peace studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, IN. She earned her doctorate from the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. Her published works include When Peace is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice as well as articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Political Theology, The Study of Nationalism and Ethnicity, and The International Journal of Peace Studies.

Jason A. Springs is assistant professor of religion, ethics, and peace studies at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, IN, where he also holds an appointment as faculty fellow in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. His research and teaching focus on conceptions of religious toleration and the challenges posed by religious pluralism for transforming conflict in European and North American contexts. His journal articles addressing issues in modern religion in public life appear in such journals as The Journal of Religion, Journal of Religious Ethics, Modern Theology, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal.



"Overall, this work is recommended for most reference collections, particularly for its case studies and supplemental references."Booklist

"A valuable supplement to college courses in the humanities and social sciences examining the concept of religious nationalism. "ARBA

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