chapter  11
9 Pages

Religion and realism: charting a middle path for International Relations theory


The increased prominence of religion in the field of International Relations (IR) has led to much scholarly naval gazing. Responses have tended towards one of two extremes: either complete disregard for religion viewing it as a fad with little explanatory power, or the wholehearted adoption of religion as the only way to gain a full understanding of international issues. But religion is a topic that requires a bit more nuance and calibration. Because religion is sometimes a tool and sometimes an autonomous force (Fox and Sandler 2004), it is difficult to theorize and difficult to analyze. In this concluding chapter, I attempt to chart a middle path for IR theory-one that avoids both of these extreme tendencies and instead brings religion into the field in a judicious way. Although such an undertaking is easier said than done, realism’s religious basis provides perfect terrain for just such a path.