Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Religion Shaping Development: Inspirational, Inhibiting, Institutionalised?, July 21-23, Birmingham (2010)




To assume a considerable ambivalence of religion in political conflict is increasingly common among social scientists. Still, the reconstruction of this ambivalence on the micro level of indvidual agency, where religious identities and political behaviour interact, is still in its infancy - and too seldom based on actual field research. This is particularly true for the peaceful side of ambivalence and - for Islam - for case studies outside the Arab world. The assumption of ambivalence is also reflected in the much broader research agenda on "The role of faith communities in conflict transformation and long term development" by the RaD programme (sub-project 3d). But while this sub-project covers many more cases than mine, it appears to be based on fieldwork in urban settings only, and solely on qualitative interviews as well. As I had the opportunity to conduct narrative interviews and socio-psychological tests with 21 Muslim peace activists in urban and rural Gujarat in spring 2008, it could be quite interesting to compare our findings. As far as mine are concerned, I found, guided by explorative clustering methods and based in a comprehensive, constructivist understanding of religious identity, four major ways of "being Muslim and working for peace" in ideal-typical condensation. I would suggest that wider methodical, conceptual and empirical lessons could be drawn from this typology, which could help in future differentiation of the ``ambivalence of the sacred'' hypothesis. These implications concern in particular the necessary but tricky integration of quantitative social-psychological with qualitative sociological methods, the usefulness of essentially non-essential conceptualizations of key concepts like "identity" or "Muslimness" and last not least the necessity of an abductive rather than inductive or deductive design.