Prof. Juergensmeyer receives Distinguished Scholar Award

Core Group Member Professor Mark Juergensmeyer Awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award, Religion and International Relations Section, International Studies Association.

We warmly congratulate Professor Mark Juergensmeyer, Core Group member of the international research project Resolving Jihadist Conflicts?, to the Distinguished Scholar Award. And we look forward to the panel in his honor, which will be organized during the International Studies Association Annual Convention in 2018, San Francisco, US.

“Professor Juergensmeyer is a world-leading scholar, whose work has shaped the scholarly field of the study on religious violence, religiously motivated terrorism, religious nationalism and prospects for conflict resolution. […] As a scholar, teacher, institution-builder and commentator, he has been immensely important for the field of religion and conflict, and has inspired many others to take this field of research further. Thus, Professor Juergensmeyer has without doubt contributed significantly to the field of religion and international studies. In particular, his concept of ‘cosmic war’, referring to the metaphysical battle between the forces of Good and Evil that enlivens religious imagination and compels violent action, has provided a useful conceptual framework for the larger-than-life confrontations that religious extremists engage in today.” (Excerpt from the nomination letter.)

Professor Juergensmeyer is professor of global studies, professor of sociology, Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Global and Sikh Studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the founding director of the Global and International Studies Program and the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. 

Professor Juergensmeyer has published more than two hundred articles and twenty books, including Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (University of California Press, 4th Ed, 2017), and Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State (University of California Press 2008). His work has had a tremendous impact on the field. To illustrate, his book Terror in the Mind of God has more than 2000 citations in Google Scholar.

Article published in The Pacific Review

Project leader, Prof. Isak Svensson and project co-worker Daniel Finnbogason have been published in the Area Studies journal The Pacific Review, a major platform for the study of the domestic policy making and international interactions of the countries of the Pacific Basin. "The missing jihad. Why have there been no jihadist civil wars in Southeast Asia?" provides an explanatory framework for the absence of jihadist civil wars in Southeast Asia since 1975, based on three inter-related factors: the lack of internationalization of religiously defined armed conflicts; political channels for Islamist political aspirations; and regional counterterrorism collaboration against violent jihadist groups. The article can be accessed at this link: 

Visit by Dr. Mona Kanwal Sheikh

Photo: Daniel Finnbogason

On Thursday 27 April, Dr. Mona Kanwal Sheikh visited the Department of Peace and Conflict Research to give a presentation on her new book “Guardians of God: Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban”. The book is based on years of first-hand research and is the first major study of the Pakistani Taliban, their religious interpretations, and its impact on their strategies and validations of jihad. 

Dr. Mona Kanwal Sheikh is based at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is an affiliate of the “Resolving Jihadist Conflicts?” research project. Thank you Mona for your visit and excellent presentation!

Nordic conference on violent extremism

Photo: Eric Hartshorne. Left to right: Isak Svensson, Desirée Nilsson, Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Daniel Finnbogason.

On Tuesday 25 April, the Swedish Core Group of “Resolving Jihadist Conflicts” arranged a panel and presented ongoing research within the framework of the project, at the conference “Risks, roots and responses: Nordic conference on research on violent extremism”, organised by the Segerstedt Institute at the University of Gothenburg. The aim of the conference was to present research and concrete initiatives currently ongoing on in the Nordic countries and in other parts of the world, on the topic of violent extremism.

Visit to Patani, Southern Thailand

Photo: Deep South Watch

The Patani region of southern Thailand, where a majority of the population are Muslim and speak Malay as their first language, has for long been embroiled in a violent conflict between government forces and various armed groups demanding independence or autonomy from the state. Over the years, however, there have been several attempts to find a negotiated settlement to the conflict. These have often been facilitated by Malaysian delegations. 

In February, project leader Prof. Isak Svensson visited the region to study the ongoing peace process between Bangkok and Patani insurgents. Here, Prof Svensson is accompanied by Anders Engvall (Stockholm School of Economics) and Srisompob Jitpiromsri (Deep South Watch).

1st International Working Group Conference

Photo: Gudlaug Ólafsdóttir. Left to right: Isak Svensson, Joel Ahlberg, I William Zartman, Mark Juergensmeyer, Monica Toft, Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

The research project "Resolving Jihadist Conflicts? Religion, Civil War, and Prospects for Peace" held its 1st International Working Group Conference in Uppsala 5-8 September. The conference gathered around 30 scholars and professionals from multiple disciplines to discuss the concept of 'jihadist conflict' and revise the analytical framework of the project. As a part of the conference, a public seminar, Resolving Jihadist Wars: Prospects and Challenges, was organized on Tuesday 6 September together with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA). Prof. Monica Toft (University of Oxford) delivered the keynote address before a panel discussion also including project leader Prof. Isak Svensson (Uppsala University), Prof. I William Zartman (Johns Hopkins University), Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer (University of California Santa Barbara), Joel Ahlberg (FBA), and Dr. Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs (FBA) as the moderator. Drawing a large audience, the panel (pictured above) debated a number of key questions related to the conditions under which jihadist armed conflicts can be resolved.

Handbook of Religion and Society


Project leader Professor Isak Svensson has contributed with the chapter 'Conflict and Peace' to the recently published Handbook of Religion and Society, a comprehensive, up-to-date resource for scholars, students, policy makers, and other professionals seeking to understand the role of religion in society. Drawing on empirical studies in peace and conflict research, Professor Svensson examines the dual role of religion in war and peacebuilding processes. Religious factors may play a role in creating the structural conditions and proximity causes that spark wars and violence, but also contribute to the intensification of conflicts, polarization, and an increase in hostile demands. Yet, religious factors are also important in accounting for peaceful developments.

Isak Svensson (ed): 'Conflict and Peace', in David Yamane: Handbook of Religion and Society (Springer), 2016, p 467-484.

First Core Group meeting

Photo: Sheraton Atlanta. From left to right: Mark Juergensmeyer, Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs, Isak Svensson (project leader), Desirée Nilsson, and Daniel Finnbogason. Absent: Ebrahim Moosa. 

On Wednesday 16 March, the Core Group of ”Resolving Jihadist Conflicts? Religion, Civil War, and Prospects for Peace” held their first meeting. Coming together in conjunction with the ISA Annual Convention in Atlanta, the Core Group set the agenda for the coming year, including planned research contributions and upcoming project activities.

International Relations and Religion

Isak Svensson, professor at the department, and Ron E Hessner, have recently published the four-volume set International Relations and Religion (2016, SAGE Library of Interantional Relations), consisting of: Vol I: Religion and International Relations, Vol II: Religion and War, Vol III: Religion and Peace, and Vol IV: Religion, IR and Methodologies

The study of religion and international relations has been gathering pace over the past few decades, and has intensified since the start of the new millennium, when the discipline experienced a sudden surge of interest attributable to world events, starting with the Iranian Revolution and culminating with U.S. incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq. 

This four-volume set organizes and contextualizes this burgeoning literature and its contribution to the study of international theory, focusing in particular on its influence in the subfield of war and peace studies. 

The four volumes are arranged thematically, including papers which offer a range of answers to key questions such as:

  • How has religion shaped the structure of international system?
  • How do we define the relationship between religion and war?
  • In what ways has religion prevented, constrained or resolved conflict?
  • How do we approach the methodological, ontological and epistemological challenges raised by the interdisciplinary study of religion and international relations?

Seminar at Sida on development cooperation, security, and terrorism 

2016-02-12: Core Group member Assistant Professor Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs recently visited Sida for a seminar on the nexus between development cooperation, security, and terrorism, where she presented the research project "Resolving Jihadist Conflicts? Religion, Civil War, and Prospects for Peace" to much interest. Söderberg Kovacs, Head of Research at Folke Bernadotte Akademin, was also given the opportunity to share her experiences on research concerning successful efforts to integrate terrorism prevention in larger conflict prevention, the risks and opportunities of connecting development cooperation to the countering of the root causes of terrorism, and the gaps in our knowledge and work.

Related publications


As the Islamic State (IS) is being increasingly pushed back in the Middle East, Prof. Svensson argues for the need for a discussion on how to build sustainable peace in the region. Efter IS, Mänsklig Säkerhet, 7 June 2017. (In Swedish.)  

Photo: MidoSemsem/Shutterstock

Prof. Svensson on the decline of political Islamism and what the international community needs to do to overcome militant Islamism. Tvådelad strategi behövs mot militant islamism, Utrikesmagasinet, 27 May 2017. (In Swedish.)

Project leader Prof. Isak Svensson on Swedish radio talking about the deadly attack in central Stockholm on 7 April 2017. Lyckas terroristerna splittra oss? Sveriges Radio P1, 13 April 2017. (In Swedish.)

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