The Problem of Religious Wars

How religion matters for contemporary conflicts.

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: Thursday, 08 November 2012 12:00-15:00
Place: PRIO, Hausmanns gate 7, Oslo

In 2005, Martin E. Marty wrote that "the collisions of faith, or the collisions of peoples of faith, are among the most threatening conflicts around the world in the new millennium. They grow more ominous and lethal every season".

What is the scourge of religious violence in today's world? How can religious war be understood? Are conflicts involving a religious dimension particularly horrid; and how can religious conflict be solved?
We have invited two world leading scholars on the religion-conflict nexus to shed light on these questions. Based on their ongoing research, they will give an overview of key patterns and processes linking religion with violent conflict in today's world, and discuss what it takes to end such conflicts.


Monica Duffy Toft (Oxford University): Why does religion still matter for understanding war? Is religious violence rational?

Isak Svensson
(Uppsala University): How can religious armed conflicts be settled peacefully?

Ragnhild Nordås (PRIO): Are religious conflicts bloodier?

Discussant: Scott Gates (PRIO)
Chair: Gina Lende (PRIO)

This seminar is part of an on-going seminar series at PRIO scrutinising the role of religion in conflict and peace.

Monica Duffy Toft is a Professor of Political Science in the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. She has published extensively on armed conflicts in general, and religion as a factor in conflict in particular. She has recently published an edited volume God's Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics, co-authored with Daniel Philpott and Timothy Samuel Shah, (Norton, 2011). Currently, she is completing another book: Faith as Reason: The Role of Religion and Nationalism in Political Violence.

Isak Svensson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Uppsala and the former Director of Research, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, New Zeeland. He is an expert on religious dimensions of peace and conflicts processes; and has published in particular on how religious conflicts can be resolved.  He is currently writing a book titled Ending Holy Wars.

Ragnhild Nordås is a Senior Researcher at PRIO. Her dissertation from 2010 was titled Beliefs & Bloodshed: Understanding Religion and Intrastate Conflict and focused on under what circumstances religion becomes an organizing principle for violence, how infringement on religious freedom matters for religious conflicts, and whether conflicts with particular religious dimensions are especially severe. She is writing a book with the preliminary title Repression, Accommodation, and the Religion-Conflict Nexus.

Scott Gates is a Research Professor and Director for the Centre for the Study of Civil War at PRIO. He is an expert on Applied Game Theoretic Analysis, International Relations Theory, International Political Economy, Formal Models of Bureaucracy, and Economic Modeling; and has recently focused on how religion functions in recruitment and retention in rebel groups, and what this means for conflict processes.

Gina Lende is the coordinator of the Religion Research Group at PRIO. She is the former Director of the PRIO Cyprus Centre. Her current research is on the political role of religious movements, with a specific focus on Pentecostalism in Nigeria and Guatemala. She is doing a PhD in History of Religion at the Norwegian School of Theology.