Religion and Global Public Life
Convenor: Mark Juergensmeyer
The research hub on Global Religion in Public Life at the UCSB Orfalea Center brings together faculty and advanced graduate students who are interested in the role of religion in the social, cultural, and political transformations related to globalization. By “global religion” we mean both the transnational reach of religious traditions, and the varied religious responses to globalization. By “public life” we mean anything in the arena of the public sphere from political institutions to movements in civil society. We research such diverse topics as religious nationalism, social media, diasporic communities, multiculturalism, terrorism, and social paranoia as exhibited in racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia. Almost any aspect of contemporary culture and society is affected by the tumultuous changes of globalization and its religious responses.
Research focus for the 2017-18 academic year –“Thank God We’re Not Like Them” — explores the global dimensions of religious othering. By “othering” we mean the efforts to identify and maintain group boundaries between those who share a particular form of religious belief or practice and those who do not, and in its extreme forms creates nonhuman and expendable demons out of those regarded as “others.”