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The roots of radicalisation

"To understand radicalism we need to look beyond the usual explanations." The University of Chichester academics investigating the complex relationship between religion, politics, and extremism including its affect on the United Kingdom and nations around the world.

Radicalized Religion

Questions confronting radicalism, religion, and politics have been driven by the recent reprehensible attacks across the United Kingdom as well as the murder of a politician campaigning in the 2016 referendum. That these deplorable acts were committed by extremists of diverse religious and political circumstances show that radicalisation is an issue born of a multiplicity of intricately-tangled factors.

The complexity of radicalisation is often lost in polarised public debate, according to Dr Hannah Strømmen and Dr Tommy Lynch of the University of Chichester. The academics, of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, have analysed the relationship between religious belief and political activism, religion and radicalism, and the place of religion as a politicised practice in the public sphere.

“References to ‘radical religion’ and terrorism dominate the news,” adds Dr Strømmen, below, a Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies, whose researches the role of biblical texts in forming and informing culture, religion, and politics. “The boundaries between activism, radical politics, and extremism are blurred.”

Radicalisation concerns universities and academics alike, who have a responsibility to report extremist behavior. Yet despite considerable media attention there is little understanding of the topic, according to the academics.

“As recent events in Manchester and London show, the relationship between religion, politics, and extremism is an important issue confronting the UK and many nations around the world,” adds Dr Lynch, a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion, who uses contemporary philosophy to question the way society thinks about religion.

Dr Hannah Strømmem

The Radical/ized Religion conference: Friday 9 to Sunday 11 June

The connection between the religion, politics, and extremism connection is the focus of a conference organised by Drs Strømmen and Lynch. The Radical/ized Religion symposium, from Friday 9 June to Sunday 11 June, will see scholars from the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Australia, and Iran meet to discuss the ways that political sciences, biblical studies, philosophy of religion, anthropology, and sociology can help to change the understanding of religion, politics, and society.

Dr Lynch says: “The goal will be to arrive at a better understanding of the ways that religion has contributed to a wide variety of political movements and how religion informs people’s social and political identities.”

A key focus of the conference will be the way that religion is discussed in the media and in government responses to extremism. Experts on far-right political movements will examine the similarities and differences between these movements and the way they are discussed in terms of fundamentalism and terrorism.

“It is important to try to understand the way particular ideologies are presented as legitimate and attractive through the use of religious imagery and language,” adds Dr Strømmen. “Many of the papers at the conference will chart such uses not only in regard to the more extreme political positions but also, importantly, in relation to more ‘mainstream’ assumptions about particular religions and their political resonances.”

Radical/ized Religion: Religion as a Resource for Political Theory and Practice

Religion, radicalism, refugees, and the far right

Among the invited speakers are Torkel Brekke, a Research Professor of The Peace Research Institute Oslo and researcher on the role of religion at the Centre for Research on Extremism, who will speak about radicalised Christianity and hostility against Muslims in Scandinavia. S Sayyid, a Professor of Social Theory and Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds will address how European countries came to view religion as a private belief separated from politics.

Yvonne Sherwood, a Professor of Biblical Cultures and Politics at the University of Kent, will discuss the biblical story of Hagar – an Egyptian slave who represents the figure of the migrant or refugee. The conference will also host a keynote from freelance journalist Øvyind Strømmen, Managing Editor of the acclaimed Hate Speech International, who will speak about the Nordic far right and their use of religious imagery.

Dr Lynch, below, adds: “We hope that bringing together researchers from different countries and working in different disciplines will help us understand of the relationship between religion and politics.”

Dr Tommy Lynch

Find out more

The programme of events of the Radicalised Religion conference, including abstracts from the keynote speakers, is available from www.radical-izedreligion.weebly.com.

For more about the research specialisms of Dr Hannah Strømmen go to www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-hannah-m-strommen or Dr Tommy Lynch at www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-tommy-lynch. Alternatively for more about the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at the University of Chichester go to www.chi.ac.uk/department-theology-philosophy-and-religious-studies.