Bloody, Intense, and Durable

The Politics of 'Religious Conflict'


  • Tomas Lindgren Umeå University
  • Hannes Sonnenschein Umeå University



religious conflict, secular conflicts, identity, conflict issue, critical analysis, neoliberal status quo


A growing number of scholars argues that we are witnessing a resurgence
of religion in world politics, accompanied by an increase
in religiously inspired conflict. Empirical studies demonstrate that
religious conflicts are more violent, more intense, more durable, and
more difficult to resolve through negotiated settlements than their
secular counterparts. In this paper, we argue that these conclusions
are unreliable, because they fail to provide convincing criteria for
separating religious conflicts from non-religious ones. Our main
concern is with the categorization problem. What characteristics or
factors make a conflict party, conflict issue, or identity religious, and
what characteristics or factors frame a conflict party, conflict issue,
or identity as non-religious? A basic assumption behind much of this
research is the contested idea that religion is a universal phenomenon
embodied in various forms such as Islam and Christianity. The majority
of scholars simply assume a sharp division between religion and
the secular without problematizing or justifying such a distinction. In
this article, we argue that religious conflict is an ideologically charged
concept, and that the study of the religion-conflict nexus reinforces
the neoliberal status quo and current systems of power.




How to Cite

Lindgren, T., & Sonnenschein, H. (2021). Bloody, Intense, and Durable: The Politics of ’Religious Conflict’. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 57(1), 59–80.