CSRC Annual Report

Page 1




Message from the Director: Founded in 2003, the

Center marked its fifteenth anniversary this year by doing what we do best: enhancing understanding of urgent and complex issues of our time through an array of research projects, student programs, and public events. Much has changed since those early years when September 11, al-Qaeda, and Iraq dominated the headlines. Today, other challenges confront us. New wars in the Middle East and desperate conditions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have created unprecedented global migration flows that ignore the boundaries of political maps. Meanwhile, the internal politics of many countries are beset by troubling forms of nationalism. Here at home, American political life seems more divided than ever. Amid these changes, the place of religion in fomenting, fueling, or mitigating conflict cries out for greater attention. Several Center projects and events this past year examined how religion is implicated in these conflicts. We considered how resources in American life—civil religion and institutions of civil society—might reconnect a polarized society and strengthen democracy. We looked back to earlier moments of political and religious upheaval by examining the legacy of the Protestant Reformation in the modern world. And we continued exploring “global citizenship” as both a problem and a possibility in an era when the most

vulnerable peoples are the ones being persecuted and victimized. The Center’s Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative continued addressing crises involving refugees—through conferences and workshops that examine how local actors create peace in and around contested border areas. As well, the Center initiated several new research projects through its seed grant program, including chronicling democratic movements in the Middle East and exploring different religious views about immigration right here in Arizona. Since our founding, our work has drawn from a range of disciplinary approaches and perspectives as we seek to fathom our past, make sense of our present, and envision a better tomorrow. In this task, we are fortunate to enjoy the support of many donors to whom we are deeply grateful. In the pages that follow, you will learn more about the faculty, students, and community programs through which we are steadily doing our part to change the world. Sincerely,

John D. Carlson Interim Director

CONTENTS Year in Review: Research & Public Education:

2-3 Fall 2017 to Spring 2018

4-5 Addressing Polarization

10-11 Growing New Ideas

6-7 Reconceiving Consensus

12-13 Peace Studies

8-9 Global Change, Then and Now

Student Programs: 14-15 Empowering the Next Generation

18-19 Friends of the Center

Community Support:

Research Awards

16-17 Undergraduate

Research Fellows Program

19 Undergraduate Certificate

20-21 Friends of the Center

in Religion and Conflict

PEOPLE Faculty & Staff:

Carolyn Forbes Assistant Director

Yasmin Saikia Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies

Anand Gopal Assistant Research Professor

Matt Correa Assistant Research Administrator

Pawan Rehill Sarah Lords International Communication, Program Outreach & Event Coordinator Coordinator

Laurie Perko Administrative Coordinator

Student Interns: Campbell Punnett Sociology

Dominique Reichenbach Global Studies

Marcela Saenz Religious Studies


• 1


2 017



2 018

JUL 2017

SEP 2017

NOV 2017

Luce/ACLS grant awarded to John Carlson, Kristin Gilger and Anand Gopal for “Religion, Journalism and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society”

“Losing our Civil Religion,” by John Carlson, published in Religion and Politics magazine

“The Uncounted,” by Anand Gopal and Azmat Khan, published in The New York Times Magazine


SEP 2017 AUG 2017 Undergraduate Research Fellows seminar begins

AUG 2017

THE MAXINE & JONATHAN MARSHALL SPEAKER SERIES In Search of Our Better Angels: A History of American Civil Religion Philip Gorski (Yale University) addresses the long-running tension between those who believe the U.S. was founded as a secular democracy and those who believe it was established as a Christian nation

Mehrin Mansoori, Savera Mujib Shami, Sadaf Awan, and Nudrat Kamal, visiting Scholars from the University of the Punjab (Pakistan), arrive

500: The Protestant Reformation and the Modern World A panel discussion featuring Susan Schreiner (University of Chicago), Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame), and Tracy Fessenden (ASU), and moderated by John Carlson, explores the political, religious, and sociological impact of the Protestant Reformation

The story, which reports on the number of civilian deaths caused by coalition forces in Iraq, won the Hillman Prize for Magazine Reporting and the National Magazine Award. It also led to changes in U.S. law aimed at reducing civilian casualties

NOV 2017 Affiliate Hava Tirosh-Samuelson appointed Regents’ Professor, ASU’s highest faculty honor An expert in Jewish philosophy, Tirosh-Samuelson helps lead the Center’s initiatives in religion, science, and technology

2017 SEP 2017 SEP 2017 CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER Pakistan Today: Terrorism, the State, and the Diminishing Space of Progressive Politics Aasim Sajjad Akhtar and Alia Amirali from Quaid-e-Azam University discuss how the “war on terror” transformed the politics of public space in Pakistan since September 11, 2001

2 •


Center faculty affiliate Jason Bruner’s book Living Salvation in the East Africa Revival published

OCT 2017 Yasmin Sakia, the HardtNickachos Chair in Peace Studies, delivers keynote address at the 200th anniversary conference of Aligarh Muslim University in India

NOV 2017 HARDT-NICKACHOS LECTURES IN PEACE STUDIES The Warfare State and Alternative Activities Joseph Elder (University of Wisconsin) discusses the importance of non-military approaches to U.S. foreign policy in light of increased military expenditures

NOV 2017 Workshop on Disenchantment’s Enchantments: A Century of Science as a Vocation Held in collaboration with Harvard’s Program in Science & Technology Studies, affiliates Gaymon Bennett, Linell Cady, Ben Hurlbut, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson spearhead an exploration of the impact of Max Weber’s writings as part of the project “Beyond Secularization: Piloting a New Approach to Religion, Science and Technology”

JAN 2018

FEB 2018

MAR 2018



Religion and Politics in the Era of Trump: Two Views from the White House

Global Citizenship in an Age of Anger

Melissa Rogers and Peter Wehner, former White House officials from the Obama and Bush administrations, reflect on the first year of the Trump presidency, offering insight into how presidents understand the role religion plays in American society

Public intellectual Pankaj Mishra traces the roots of contemporary nationalisms, while offering alternative perspectives that thinkers from around the world have developed to express a sense of common humanity and shared community; co-sponsored by the Luce Project on Religion and Global Citizenship

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Yasmin Saikia spoke to ASU Now on the struggles and experiences women share when facing gendered stereotypes

FEB 2018 CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER Luther and the Legacy of Anti-Semitism

FEB 2018 John Carlson speaks on civil religion and American nationalism as part of a panel at Fordham University in New York

In the context of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, History Professor Volker Benkert, and Gary McCluskey, pastor at University Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry at ASU, explore Martin Luther’s ambivalent legacy as a Protestant Reformer and ardent anti-Semite; co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies

APR 2018 CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER War in a Warming World During Earth Month, ethicist Mark Douglas (Columbia Theological Seminary) discusses the environmental intersections of religion and conflict, offering insights into the ways that climate change intensifies war

2018 MAY 2018 MAR 2018

Student Awards Ceremony

Sex and American Christianity: The Religious Divides that Fractured a Nation

Center annual luncheon recognizes winners of the Friends of the Center research awards, incoming and outgoing Undergraduate Research Fellows, and students who earned a Certificate in Religion and Conflict

FEB 2018

Historian and director of the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics Marie Griffith explains how issues of sex and gender came to be at the heart of some of the most polarizing political issues of our age

International Conference on Imagining Peace in Conflict

MAR 2018

Through the Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Endowment, an international group of scholars explore how peace is imagined and enacted in the midst and aftermath of conflict through case studies of Nigeria, Kashmir, Israel/Palestine, Bosnia, Ireland, and Rwanda; co-sponsored by the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and the Dean of Humanities

CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER Manbij: Understanding the Syrian Civil War from the Experience of a Single Town Center assistant research professor Anand Gopal shares the lived impact of ISIS occupation and U.S. airstikes on the town of Manbij, Syria; co-sponsored by the Center on the Future of War

MAR 2018 Sun Devil Giving Day 2018 On this university-wide day of philanthropy, the Center saw an increase of 15% in donor support

MAY 2018 Pakistan Futures: Imagination, Impact, & Dialogue International conference held in Lahore, Pakistan— part of a Center-led partnership between ASU and Punjab University—explores themes of identity politics, education, the media, gender equality, and the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations


• 3

addressing polarization: WE THE PEOPLE? Democracy and the institutions on which it depends are being tested today in ways unseen in recent decades. Populist movements and anti-globalist backlashes are sweeping across the globe, while democratic norms once taken for granted are being challenged. In the U.S., politics is deeply polarized in ways that divide communities and weaken the idea of consensus and the common good.

Over the last year, the Center has approached these issues head on by examining how religion can contribute to recovering the notion of a “we” that is embedded in those famous opening words of the Constitution. From examinations of concepts like civil religion by visiting speakers and the work of interim director John Carlson, to panel discussions featuring former White House officials who discussed how past administrations understood the role religion plays in American society, the Center explored the constructive forces religion has served and might yet serve in bridging the deep divisions within the country.

4 •


As part of this work, the Center partnered with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on a new initiative: “Religion, Journalism, and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society.” The project seeks to strengthen the voices of journalists and academics, to highlight the critical role that religious organizations and institutions play in civil society, and to demonstrate the contributions that these groups all make to democratic culture. Frequently, Center projects divide along domestic or international lines. This project considers how civil society strengthens democracy at home and abroad.


is still open to new or undiscovered sources that bolster the moral and spiritual ideals that define the country.


Q: What is the state of American civil religion today?

I would say that there are signs that we are losing our civil religion, and perhaps losing sight of what it even means to be a “we.” Significant voices across the Simply put, American civil religion political spectrum seem to have turned is the moral backbone of our body their backs on a distinguished heritage politic. It is the that once worked collective effort to unify the country. CIVIL RELIGION IS THE to understand The United States MORAL BACKBONE OF the American has experienced OUR BODY POLITIC— experience of deep fissures over A HERITAGE OF SHARED what it means to self-government BELIEFS, STORIES, IDEAS, in light of be, as our national higher truths SYMBOLS, AND EVENTS motto affirms, one and through nation made up THAT EXPLAINS THE reference to a AMERICAN EXPERIENCE OF of many diverse shared heritage peoples. Are we a SELF-GOVERNMENT of beliefs, nation of immigrants WITH REFERENCE stories, ideas, or of ethnoTO A MORAL ORDER symbols, and nationalists? Do we THAT TRANSCENDS IT. events. For believe in “American a country of Exceptionalism” or immigrants and diverse peoples—where just “America First”? Do we prioritize national identity is based not upon narrowly conceived national interests ethnic or tribal belonging or cultural over enduring American values? homogeneity—civil religion provides a Should we lead and preserve the shared basis for citizenship. international order, or simply compete with superpowers like China and Q: Is civil religion actually a Russia? Will we compassionately open “religion”? our doors to the world’s “tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to be free,” Well, yes and no. Like traditional or will we tell them to go back to the religions, it binds people together. countries they come from? What does Yet this common faith—others have it look like when we undermine the called it a “public moral philosophy”—is standards by which moral judgments decidedly non-sectarian. American can be made? These are the kinds civil religion offers a moral vocabulary, of questions we need to be asking not a theology. It blends Hebraic and as we consider what role civil religion Christian notions of calling, piety, and can play in forming U.S. commitments accountability with republican ideas to human rights, democracy, good of virtue, self-government, and natural governance, and religious freedom rights. For many, the canon of U.S. civil around the world. religion includes texts like Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” sermon, Jefferson’s Q: What does the future of civil Declaration of Independence, Thoreau’s religion look like? defense of civil disobedience, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and King’s “Letter Civil religion may be poised for a from a Birmingham Jail.” Yet, the canon comeback. Philip Gorski, a scholar Q: What is American civil religion?

who visited the Center last year, has provided a compelling argument for its recovery. Civil religion, he writes, offers the “best starting point we have for thinking about the future.” It’s an indispensable resource for reclaiming the vital center, for it preserves continuity of the country’s ideals while also adapting to its changing needs and conditions. In that sense, it is simultaneously conservative and progressive. Viewed appropriately, civil religion also presumes a preferential option for the marginalized: a path for people of all colors, creeds, and backgrounds to join and expand the American consensus. In sum, American civil religion gives voice to moral convictions and values beyond crude economic and political interests. It affords a model for forging consensus based upon founding principles that transcend differences in ethnicity, race, gender, religion, wealth, and political party. The promise of unity this vision holds out—based on convictions that we are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights, and share common dreams and pursuits—is greater than any group or individual. The urgent challenge today is whether civil religion can provide a shared vision that includes all Americans while also reaffirming these enduring principles.


• 5

reconceiving consensus: The Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker on Religion and Conflict


Addressing the heightened levels

of polarization in the United States, sociologist Philip Gorski argued that America’s founding tradition was a synthesis of both sacred and secular sources. “If you think about the history of American Civil religion, it started out very narrowly: Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and New Englanders… Then it became capacious enough to accommodate…Baptists, Methodists… and then Catholics and Jews… I don’t think it is at all inconceivable that a new version of the civil religion will come into being that will really be embracing of the greater differences that we have now.”



Peter Wehner and Melissa Rogers,

two former White House officials, discuss the role of religion in shaping the American political landscape, agreeing that the relationship between religion and politics is fraught, but necessary. The panel was moderated by John Carlson.

“Things are probably going to get worse before they get better...but sometimes “There’s room for improvement on viruses create their on antibodies.” both sides. Some progressives need to understand religion better and -PETER WEHNER welcome religious leaders to the table. They need to take the concerns of right-leaning religious people more seriously. On the conservative side, there could be more of an effort to address the concerns of religions other than Christianity.”

-MELISSA ROGERS Video of these events is available at csrc.asu.edu/events

6 •



The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, in partnership with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was awarded a grant by the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs. The title of this new initiative is “Religion, Journalism, and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society.”

coming to ASU, Gilger worked for over 20 years as a reporter and editor for news at several newspapers across the country, including as deputy managing editor at the Arizona Republic. Gopal, who recently earned a PhD in sociology, is a journalist who has covered Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan for multiple news outlets. He is the author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and winner of the Ridenhour Book Prize.

Having a project team that combines excellence in both scholarship and journalism addresses a key gap between scholarly discourse about religion and mainstream understanding The initiative focuses on the key role of religion and public life, according to that civil society plays in democratic Gilger. “Journalism students and faculty societies, said John Carlson, director of get the opportunity to develop a much the project and Center interim director. deeper understanding and appreciation “At a time when nationalist movements for the nuances of religious coverage, and anti-democratic trends are on and scholars who work on issues the rise, the involving religion will AT A TIME WHEN contributions become better prepared NATIONALIST of scholars, to communicate with journalists, mainstream audiences,” MOVEMENTS AND religious she said. ANTI-DEMOCRATIC actors, and TRENDS ARE ON THE RISE, others to civil To enhance interaction THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF society and between academics and SCHOLARS, JOURNALISTS, democratic journalists, the project AND RELIGIOUS ACTORS culture sponsors a series of TO CIVIL SOCIETY AND are more faculty workshops, the important development of a team DEMOCRATIC CULTURE than ever,” he ARE MORE IMPORTANT taught class, and public said. events. THAN EVER.

-JOHN CARLSON “There have According to Carlson, been significant attacks in recent it is important that the project help years against the authority of scholars scholars and journalists better and journalists alike,” Carlson added. understand one another’s professions— “These professions are indispensable their different strengths and limitations. to democracy, and they stand to benefit “Both academics and journalists are from working together and sharing writers and interpreters of culture, critical insights.” but they do it on different timelines and using different tools,” he said. Cronkite Senior Associate Dean Kristin “One of the biggest challenges in Gilger and Anand Gopal, assistant understanding religion is its complexity, research professor with the Center, join and both professions play critical roles Carlson in leading the project. Before in that respect.”

The study of religion, according to Carlson, engages many levels and benefits from different approaches— textual studies, history, theology, ethics, anthropology, politics, gender studies— and can not just be understood solely through a textual or doctrinal lens. “The lived experience of religion— of peoples and cultures in different regions of the world and in different historical periods—is crucial. But it can be hard for scholars to take their vast repository of knowledge and present it in a pithy sound bite or to package their nuanced knowledge of an issue for a journalist who is writing on deadline,” he said. Another key area of the project concerns the relationship between religion and secularism, particularly how secular assumptions have become widespread in institutions such as the media and the academy. “It can be misleading to say that secularism is rising,” according to Carlson. “Many scholars show that religion is growing around the world, not declining. Further, whether implicitly or explicitly, religion is woven deeply into people’s national heritage, history, culture and even laws. But secularist assumptions do influence the way the media understands and covers violence.” “That is why it is all the more important for journalists to think about how they approach and cover religion stories and for religion scholars to pay careful attention to how religion is discussed in the media,” said Carlson. “Both professions can work better together to contribute to accurate, in-depth news stories about religion.” RESEARCH & PUBLIC EDUCATION


global change, then and now:

Two initiatives this past year showcase the historical sweep of the Center’s work. A panel on the 500th anniversary of

the Protestant Reformation explored its legacy and unexpected impact on the modern world, including Europe’s wars of religion, the creation of the nation-state system, and the evolution of religious freedom. Fast forward to the present day—an era in which nation-states paper the planet and individuals are connected by forces of globalization. In such a moment, problems such as climate change and massive migration flows transcend national borders, raising questions about nations’ and individuals’ moral responsibilities. In addressing these problems, our project on Religion and Global Citizenship considers the role of religious ideas and movements in re-shaping our moral horizons.


500: THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION AND THE MODERN WORLD In 1517, Martin Luther set in motion the

Protestant Reformation, the legacy of which has been massive, complicated, and powerfully formative. It has affected innumerable parts of our society, religious or not. On the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, the Center assembled a panel of distinguished scholars to explore and discuss its political, religious, and sociological impact. Discussants included historian Susan Schreiner (University of Chicago), political scientist Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame), and ASU religious studies professor and Center affiliate Tracy Fessenden. Interim director John Carlson moderated the panel. Prof. Fessenden discussed the significance and legacy of the Protestant Reformation in an ASU Now interview, which is excerpted below. Q: Why is the Protestant Reformation important to talk about 500 years later? Fessenden: In a sense, the history of the individual in the West begins with the Protestant Reformation. In a nutshell, the Reformation moved the

8 •


focus of religious authority from the [Catholic] Church—the institution—to the Bible. That made one’s experience of reading of the Bible the path to knowing the divine will. The hope of the original reformers was that this would put an end to religious

corruption and disputes over authority… but the outcome could not have been further from what they hoped. Lodging religious authority in the individual’s encounter with scripture ultimately unleashed a hyper-pluralism of opinion, of interpretation, of the concept of the good and the options for pursuing it.

Q: What did a religious revolution have to do with political and social change? Fessenden: For most of Christian history, the Church was the temporal authority as well as the spiritual one. The Church was the government, basically. The reason we have churchstate separation in modern liberal states has to do with the way that bloody disputes between Christian factions over doctrinal and theological differences came to be settled. If

the divine will was to be known… through Bible-reading only, still the Bible needed to be interpreted. Rival interpretations matter when they drive the actions of states. But if the state takes itself out of the religion business to focus on politics, law, and trade, then rival interpretations essentially come down to individual differences of belief, and these [in theory] are manageable in civil society. Q: What can we understand about religion and conflict in the

world today from studying the Protestant Reformation? Fessenden: As Americans, the Protestant understanding that religion is primarily a matter of belief, and that we are free to believe or not as we wish, is something a majority agree on and take for granted…But not all religions center on belief. When we understand religion to be about belief, often we’re making Christianity the implicit norm.


been a marketing device used to sell everything from luggage to college. But it is also an evocative symbol of human community and a topic of deep scholarly investigation, as made evident by a multi-year research project led by Linell Cady and John Carlson. Over the course of four years, “Religion and Global Citizenship” has engaged scholars in the United States and around the world to explore the ways in which the concept of global citizenship, building on human rights discourse, inspires new obligations, loyalties, and outlooks that transcend national borders. The project shows that global citizenship is not a replacement for traditional notions of citizenship;

rather, it is a powerful metaphor for devoting significant attention to the conceiving a shared sense of identity moral dimensions of contemporary and belonging. Global citizenship is global problems, they explore how the also an idea that has endured withering impulses of global citizenship might attacks from nationalist voices. This be preserved in the face of nationalist project examines the understudied role backlashes around the world. of religious ideas for both IF THE IDEAL OF GLOBAL advocates and critics of CITIZENSHIP IS TO INSPIRE global citizenship. In the project’s final phase, Cady and Carlson are editing a volume of essays that critically examines the aspirations and limitations of global citizenship, both conceptually and practically speaking. In


The allure of “global citizenship” has







• 9

growing new ideas: Picture a shared dinner table as a

venue for increasing awareness about the immigrant experience. Or consider how a newspaper archive could serve as a foundation for conceptualizing democratic futures in the Middle East. These ideas reflect just two of the innovative projects and possibilities that the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict kickstarts through its annual seed grant program. “Globalization has created a more integrated world, meaning problems that start in one place often cascade into another,” says John Carlson, interim director of the Center. “Today’s challenges are like knots, where political, social, environmental, economic, and cultural issues are often tangled together. Unraveling some of these knots requires new and sometimes unconventional approaches.” The Center launched its seed grant program shortly after its founding in 2003. Since then, it has leveraged the entrepreneurial spirit of the New American University model by creating opportunities and incentives for faculty to participate in initiatives that cut across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. By offering pilot funding, the seed grant program promotes the growth of new ideas and encourages faculty to push past traditional disciplinary constraints. “The payoff that we have seen from this program is profound,” Carlson says. “We have watched novel ideas grow into expansive, in-depth research projects that have generated substantial contributions to scholarship. Investing early in these ideas has paid huge dividends, not only financially in terms of the external grants they have

10 •


generated, but in terms of human understanding as well. Many of these projects would not have moved forward without the catalyzing force of Center seed grants.” The First Seed Grant: Muslim Identities in Europe Carolyn Warner, a professor of political science in the School of Politics and Global Studies, was awarded the Center’s first seed grant in 2003. Her project focused on Muslim identities in Europe and involved researchers from ASU and several other universities. “When the project first started,” says Warner, “there was all of this focus on the idea that Islam was a single monolith—which we knew was not true—so the question then became how and why different groups of Muslims became allies or opponents when it came to political issues.” “Beyond that, many pertinent questions about how religious ideas and structures affected all sorts of political behavior had largely been ignored in the field,” says Warner. “This gave a new angle and urgency to our work.” Warner explored these questions with the seed funding she initially received from the Center, strategically building out a foundation of research that she would later use as a springboard to pursue a bigger grant with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Although she did not win the first NSF grant she applied for, the findings from Warner’s project were groundbreaking within her field, and she went on to publish a number of important papers as a result of that project. She also became part of a Center-sponsored research collaborative that focused on intergroup conflict and cooperation. The

cohort included faculty from diverse disciplines including psychology, art history, communications, and religious studies. The collaborative environment stimulated and sharpened Warner’s research inquiries. Before long, Warner—building upon the insights accrued from a $17,000 seed grant investment—went on to win not one, but several NSF grants as well as private foundation funding, totaling over $2.3 million. Today, Warner is regarded as one of the top scholars in the field of religion and politics. “The seed grant I received from the Center provided me with important access to the tools necessary to move my research forward,” Warner reflects. “It offered me an opportunity to further develop my ideas which, in turn, allowed them to blossom into substantial new projects.” According to Carlson, Prof. Warner’s work exemplifies the program. Awarding seed grant funding is about believing in the power of an idea and supporting ASU faculty so they can realize their vision and share it with others. “Ultimately, we are looking for creative, bold responses that address pressing problems of our time,” says Carlson. The projects awarded seed funding this year do exactly that. They engage timely topics—immigration, democracy in the Middle East, and the impact of the unfolding refugee crisis—in an effort to pioneer new approaches and generate innovative, new solutions. Seed grants support faculty in their efforts to develop initial concepts, generate pilot data, and apply for external funding to carry out a major research project.

Dinner Table Dialogues: Immigration and Christianity in the U.S. Douglas Kelley, a sociology professor and a recipient of one of this year’s Center seed grants, explores how cross-cultural conversation and storytelling can be used to understand attitudes about immigration. Kelley studies this controversial topic in an atypical, yet approachable space: the dinner table. Kelley’s project facilitates dialogue between immigrant families and evangelical church members over a shared meal. His goal is to explore the various ways in which immigration has come to be represented, and to assess how different sources of information— such as fact sheets, biblical narratives, and personal storytelling—affect church members’ views. The project is especially concerned with understanding the role that religion plays in these attitudes. Because there are strong admonitions to care for the immigrant and the stranger in biblical texts, the pilot project focuses on evangelical Christian communities. “There is much in the scholarly literature that suggests that using concepts of dialogue and narrative transforms intergroup differences and helps to manage conflict,” says Kelley. The project is designed to test this hypothesis, looking especially at how a shared meal creates opportunities to experience different types of storytelling to see which type is most effective in reducing conflict. Chronicling Democracy in the Middle East Anand Gopal—a journalist and sociologist—is another recipient of a seed grant this year. Gopal utilizes the power of collective experiences as he pilots a unique approach to understanding a critical issue in our world today: the yearning for democracy in the Middle East. The

proposed medium by which Gopal aims to explore such issues is perhaps, like Kelley, rather unexpected. Gopal’s project begins with an amassed collection of over 1,500 Syrian newspapers by which he hopes to document examples of democratic self-rule prior to and during the Syrian civil war. Amid fierce conflict, local newspapers from rebel territories represent the most complete, real-time record of Syria’s experience with selfgovernance, according to Gopal. The initiative has worked to collect, translate, and catalog the newspapers, creating an archive that can serve as a major new source of data for scholars, policymakers, and peacebuilders. It will ensure that key actors are not written out of history while reminding Syrians and the rest of the world that peace and democracy have been achieved in Syria and could be achieved again in the future. Identity Politics and the Refugee Crisis in Europe Imagination, when mobilized, can serve as the foundation for new social movements—for good or ill. This is a phenomenon that political scientists and seed grant recipients Lenka Bustikova and David Siroky seek to further understand. Their research initiative also considers the implications of conflicts in the Middle East, but through a different lens: they seek to understand how public perceptions of refugees fleeing the Middle East to Europe have come to be shaped. “The migrant wave in 2016 transformed European politics,” Siroky says, “but one dimension not readily considered is how the influx of refugees contributes to the rise of populism and illiberalism in the Balkan states.” Through their project, Bustikova and Siroky explore the subsequent impact that the refugee crisis has had on Central and Eastern Europe, with particular attention to understanding

the ideological foundations of political polarization. “Our project will look at two countries: the Czech Republic and Hungary. Both have recently experienced a boom in populist politics due to the migration crisis...but when they were faced with a similar scenario in the past, they have historically responded differently,” says Bustikova. “In the 1990s, both countries experienced significant migration of Bosnian Muslims as a result of Yugoslavia’s collapse, but this did not lead to political contestation as seen there today.” “The interesting thing about this case is that Bosnian Muslims are ethnically Slavs and Europeans, whereas the current refugees are Muslims too, but not of a European origin. This presents us with an interesting puzzle,” according to Bustikova. “Is political polarization driven by ethnicity or religion?” The long-term plan of the project is to investigate the role of political polarization in weakening democracies—does polarization precede or accelerate democratic break downs? Similarly, this project hopes to further understand how the “othering” of a group may contribute to radicalization and the unraveling of liberalism internationally. “While we are thrilled about the projects we were able to fund this year, we know that this is only the beginning,” Carlson notes. “The Center works with faculty over long periods of time to help bring these projects to fruition.” Since its inception, the Center has awarded over $240,000 in seed grant funding, which has directly generated nearly $8 million in externally funded grants. But more significantly, the program has advanced research that has improved human understanding about the dynamics of religion, conflict, and peace in the contemporary world. RESEARCH & PUBLIC EDUCATION

• 11

peace studies: A crucial part of the Center’s work involves internationally focused research projects and

programming, which create global linkages to build and share networks of knowledge. To better understand the plight of refugees, the Center’s peace studies initiative held a conference to examine how peace is negotiated around historically disputed border areas. The event included a public lecture by author Pankaj Mishra that examined the spread of religious and ethnic nationalisms. The Center also continued its research into South Asia with an international conference in Lahore, Pakistan.


Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Endowment at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict was established with a gift from a private donor to enhance research and teaching on the ideas, resources, and practices that foster peace. The endowment helped create the HardtNickachos Chair in Peace Studies, held by Yasmin Saikia, and supports programs that bring attention to the study of peace. This past year the initiative hosted a conference at ASU, “Imagining Peace in Conflict”, to explore the conditions of violence

and the possibilities of peace between bordering communities. An international group of scholars explored how peace is conceived and lived out on the ground after violent conflict, in case studies focused on Nigeria, Kashmir, Israel/ Palestine, Bosnia, Ireland, and Rwanda.

Majid Shihade of Birzeit University delivers his talk “Global Israel: Mobility, Ruptures, and Connections” via Skype after not being able to attend the conference due to delays at a Palestinian checkpoint.

12 •



Lahore, Pakistan, part of the Center’s partnership with Punjab University, provided a space for scholars to reflect on the significance of their research and commitments to imagining potential trajectories of Pakistan’s society, culture, and politics. Conference themes included identity politics and the transformation of the social landscape of Pakistan; the place of education and media in shaping the public sphere; mapping ethical futures; and new approaches to U.S.-Pakistan relations. The conference began with a keynote address by international journalist and best-selling author Ahmed Rashid who reflected on the

challenges of extremism in defining a sustainable and peaceful future for Pakistan and the region. On the second day, ASU’s Yasmin Saikia led a discussion with Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, a women’s rights activist and country director for the Open Society Foundations in Pakistan. They explored the significance of Pakistan’s civil society in giving shape to and

advocating for practices of peace and pluralism in the context of an incredibly diverse and multi-lingual country. Throughout the conference, there were panel discussions, special sessions, and presentations by faculty from Punjab University, ASU, and other universities.


How do we explain the great wave of paranoid hatreds that infect our world? From ISIS in Syria to mass shootings in the United States? From a rise in vengeful nationalisms across the world to racism and misogyny on social media? In a time of heightened, hardened anger, it remains vital to advance inclusive visions of a common humanity that transcend local affiliations and identities. But

is this recovery possible in the present global economic regime, which benefits transnational elites and provokes populist backlashes by those left behind? In his lecture, Pankaj Mishra explored some of these tensions and offered an indepth look at how we might transform anger into peace.

We face a global crisis—social, political, environmental—that puts into question above all our long intellectual submission to Western ideas of progress and development. A new common space has to be renegotiated. The militarily and culturally interventionist, business-friendly but otherwise minimalist state peddling an ideology of economic growth just won’t do. We need the fullest range of intellectual resources in order to reimagine the postcolonial world—one that isn’t always playing the futile game of catch-up with the West. -PANKAJ MISHRA



As the current U.S.

administration increases its overall military expenditures to address international concerns, sociologist Joseph Elder explained current alternatives and non-military activities that elevate

international interests. Among them are: the UN High Commission for Refugees, UN Peacekeeping Operations, the International Criminal Court and special similar courts, and the current Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. RESEARCH & PUBLIC EDUCATION

• 13

empowering the next generation: THE CENTER CELEBRATES ITS BEST STUDENTS

2018 STUDENT AWARDS LUNCHEON Cutting-edge research. Student engagement. Oh, and cupcakes. You can’t forget the iconic cupcakes. Each year the Center hosts an awards luncheon that celebrates and honors the dedicated students in our programs. Pictured: Undergraduate Research Fellows Maria Dooling (left) and Naruro Hassan (right)


few consulted with a sociologist who contextualized the problem of polarization in our country. One set out to research how the religious identity of Syrian women refugees shaped their resettlement experiences in the U.S. Another committed to exploring the way that science, technology, and religion influence our modern world.

friends, faculty, and academic advisors gathered in May to acknowledge a wide range of accomplishments: students who completed the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program; winners of “Friends of the Center” research scholarships; and undergraduates who earned a Certificate in Religion and Conflict.

we are able to recognize and honor the incredible work our students are doing through the Center and to hear firsthand how these programs have impacted their time at ASU.”

These are but a few experiences that were recognized at the Center’s annual student awards lunch. Celebratory anticipation filled West Hall as parents,

“We look forward to this event every spring,” said John Carlson, the Center’s interim director. “It’s the perfect way to cap off the school year because

“But these programs are vital to our mission to deepen understanding about religion’s role in various forms of social and political conflict.”

14 •


“Not all research centers at ASU have such vibrant and extensive programs for students,” said Carlson.

Undergraduate Research Fellows The awards ceremony recognized students who completed the Undergraduate Research Fellows program. The program is open to students from any major and this year’s group consisted of students from diverse areas of study, including biomedical engineering, journalism, English, and political science. Students in the program take a special class with the Center’s director, meet with visiting scholars, and assist faculty in cutting edge research on the dynamics of religion and conflict. Reflecting on their participation on the program, many describe the experience as transformative, if not life-changing. Read more about the program’s impact on page 16

Friends of the Center Research Awards A highlight of the awards program is the winners of the Friends of the Center research award. This award confers students—undergraduate and graduate—scholarships of up to $2,500 to pursue independent research on religion and conflict for their theses or

dissertations. They also fund students who participate in international peacebuilding programs. “The most phenomenal feature of our student programs is that they are funded by the generosity of donors, including alumni, staff, and members of the local community,” Carlson said. “We are deeply grateful to these Friends of the Center who are just as committed to the work of the Center as we are.” The Center awarded four scholarships this past year: two of the projects focus on the reach and impacts of evangelical Christianity in and beyond the United States, and two were concerned with refugee experiences and identities. In a time of heightened polarization within the country, and unprecedented forced migration internationally, research on these issues is increasingly important and urgent. Read the details of each awarded project on page 18

Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and Conflict

Conflict. These students earned an interdisciplinary certificate by completing 18 credits of coursework in the regional, political, and cultural study of religion, conflict, and peace. Over 115 students have earned the certificate since the program began 10 years ago. Students who completed the certificate this year came from a myriad of backgrounds, ranging from history to criminal justice. Read more about the certificate program on page 19

“All of us at the Center are so proud of the incredibly impressive students who were honored and recognized this year,” said Carlson. “These programs foster intellectual exchange, promote excellence in research, and strengthen civic engagement—all of which are at the heart of our work. We at the Center not only hope to prepare students as they step out into the world, but also to prepare the world to be changed by these incredible students.”

Finally, the program conferred six students with an Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and

(Left to right): Students, parents, and faculty gather at the awards luncheon. BrieAnna Frank, an Undergraduate Research Fellow and Friends of the Center Award winner, attends the awards luncheon with her mother. Members of the incoming 2019 Undergraduate Research Fellows cohort learn about the Center’s mission and student programs. STUDENT PROGRAMS

• 15


Program was the first student initiative sponsored by the Center. Created in 2003, this program exposes students to the dynamics of religion and conflict as they play out in key issues of our time, preparing students for the complex world they are entering. Selected through a competitive application process, fellows participate in a special seminar led by the Center’s director, meet with distinguished academics and practitioners, and recieve a $1,000 scholarship. Each fellow also has the unique opportunity to work closely with an ASU faculty member on exciting research projects. The interdisciplinary atmosphere, combined with the opportunity to assist faculty with their research while also learning from them, gives fellows meaningful experiences that can influence their own research and career trajectories.

For English major Naruro Hassan, the impact of the fellowship was profound. “The fellows program has completely changed my outlook on the world,” Hassan reflects. “It has given me a new perspective on how we can begin to understand a topic as complex as religion and conflict.”

Parker Shea, a journalism and mass communication major, also notes that the program taught him many things that he was not exposed to in his major. “I am walking away with a deeper appreciation for the work scholars do in answering those hard questions about our place in society, in this nation, and in the world. We live in a “The fellows program has given me time of dramatic changes in terms of one of the best experiences in my life,” global conflict, the role of religion, and Hassan movements towards equality,” says THE FELLOWS Shea. continues, PROGRAM “and has enabled The next cohort will be selected in HAS GIVEN me to form the spring. ME ONE OF lasting THE BEST relationships EXPERIENCES with students IN MY LIFE. as well as professors. I -NARURO HASSAN The Center’s Undergraduate Research appreciate the Fellows program is made possible by the opportunities this program has given generous support of Friends of the Center. me beyond anything that can be put Visit csrc.asu.edu for more information into words.”

The Undergraduate Research Fellows

or to donate.

(Clockwise from left) Nathan Hui, a biomedical engineering major, worked closely with John Carlson, on his current book project. BrieAnna Frank, a journalism and political science student, worked with faculty mentor Jason Bruner on a project about religious prejudice. Jana Tobin listens to speaker Philip Gorski as he discusses the role of American civil religion in public life today (fellows have the opportunity to meet with incoming speakers, offering them the opportunity to engage new ideas directly in an intimate seminar experience). The new cohort of Undergraduate Research Fellows gather for their first class with John Carlson, the Center’s interim director who leads the course.

16 •



THOMAS BUCHANAN Major: English Faculty Mentor: Uttaran Dutta Project: “Non-Mainstream Bhakti and Sufi Practices and Performances: Religious Conflicts and Socio-Cultural Equity in South Asia”

NICOLAS CORTEZ Major: Asian Studies Faculty Mentor: David Siroky Project: “After Secession: Matrioshka Nationalism in New States”

MARIA DOOLING Major: Biomedical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Chad Haines Project: “Mapping Urban Informality: Community, Place, Ethics”

RACHEL FLETCHER Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Souad T. Ali Project: “Women and Gender Issues in the Muslim Middle East”

BRIEANNA FRANK Major: Journalism & Political Science Faculty Mentor: Jason Bruner Project: “The Global War on Christians”

NARURO HASSAN Major: English Faculty Mentor: Chouki El Hamel Project: “Citizenship, Freedom, and Gender in Morocco”

NATHAN HUI Major: Biomedical Engineering Faculty Mentor: John Carlson Project: “Justice, Religion, and the Moral Order of Politics”

CAROLINA MARQUES DE MESQUITA Major: Political Science & English Faculty Mentor: Yasmin Saikia Project: “Hating Refugees: Immigration Policies and the Public Crisis of Social Justice”

BRIAN RUBEN Major: Sociology & Communication Faculty Mentor: Owen Anderson Project: “The First Amendment & Religious Liberty”

PARKER SHEA Major: Journalism Faculty Mentor: Sonja Klinsky Project: “Peace and Reconciliation for Climate Change? Exploring a New Approach”

JANNA TOBIN Major: History & Political Science Faculty Mentor: Eugene Clay Project: “Mapping Religious Conflict in Eurasia, 1991-2016”


• 17

2018 FRIENDS OF THE CENTER RESEARCH AWARDS Contributions from generous donors to the Center support student programs, including the

undergraduate fellows program and Friends of the Center research awards up to $2,500 to pursue independent, innovative research on religion and conflict for thesis or dissertation projects. Students may also receive scholarships to participate in international peacebuilding programs.





Doctoral student in Justice Studies Project: Dwelling in Possibility: Living as Syrian Refugee Women in the United States

Doctoral student in Political Science Project: Religious Rhetoric and Nationalist Violence in Myanmar

Doctoral student in Religious Studies Project: De-Weaponizing Faith: The Lives of PostCulture War Christians in the Upper South

Undergraduate student in Journalism & Political Science Project: Christian Allegiances to Israel in the U.S. and Abroad

Asadi focuses on the lived experiences of Syrian women refugees in the United States, including how their religious identity shapes their opportunities for socialization and how faith-based and human rights groups advocate on their behalf.

Atcha’s work looks at the impact of religious nationalism in Myanmar, particularly for Rohingya refugees fleeing violence. This project is particularly significant given the focus on Buddhism, which is often overlooked in studies of religion, conflict, and violence.

Shoemaker’s research focuses on newly emerging progressive Christian groups and religious shifts in the United States, with particular attention to competing forms of Protestant Christianity in the American South.

Frank traveled to the Middle East to understand how Christians living in Israel and the Palestinian territories view support for the state of Israel. As part of a larger project for her honor’s thesis, she then compares these attitudes to the views of American Christians. The project grew out of her undergraduate research fellows assignment with Jason Bruner, assistant professor of religious studies.

18 •


AWARD HIGHLIGHT: REFLECTIONS FROM MARGARET TUCKER Tucker, a geography major and winner of a Friends of the Center research award, traveled to Azerbaijan and Armenia in the summer of 2017 to explore the cartography of territorial conflict. Below she describes what the experience meant to her.

As a geography major with a focus on

cartography within territorial conflict, I find myself continually coming back to the world map when I travel. Putting any journey into geospatial context grounds me, literally and figuratively. Through the support of a Friends of the Center research award, I traveled to Azerbaijan and Armenia. In the span of two months I conducted 15 interviews, accessed the historic archives of both countries, completed a short-term internship, underwent 36 hours of local language instruction, and brought home a suitcase full of maps. By traveling to this small region, I made my world smaller and gained a new level of

understanding about territorial conflict along the way. I chose Nagorno-Karabakh (a disputed territory that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but also claimed by Armenia) as the case study for my research because I could safely travel to this region. The conflict is relatively new—it is not framed as a “clash of ancient hatreds”—and while there are some ethnic and religious cleavages, it is primarily nationalistic.

Although I had completed an extensive literature review on the topic before my trip, my fieldwork brought new elements to my research: • First, my work in the national archives revealed that although there are historic maps of this territory, it is unclear if they were made during the time they depict or if they were retroactively made to make a historic claim over the territory. • Second, while I expected to hear different explanations of the conflict from speaking to Azerbaijani and Armenian experts, I was surprised to find that they had a fundamentally different conception of territorial claims. While Azerbaijan solely recognizes the borders of de jure states, Armenian maps show several de facto states, including Abkhazia. My field work introduced levels of nuance that I could never have gotten without going to the region and that will inform my research and career goals in territorial conflict transformation for years to come.

Maps are often used as propaganda in territorial conflicts, and Azerbaijan and Armenia are especially known for their focus and use of maps in these ways.


This program allows students from any major to gain a broad multidisciplinary understanding of the dynamics of

religion, conflict, and peace. Originally established with support from the Ford Foundation, faculty from over ten fields offer courses on such topics as “Religion, War and Peace,” “Communication, Conflict, and Negotiation,” “Women’s Rights and Religion,” “Terrorism, War and Justice,” and “Envisioning Peace.”

The program has graduated over 115 students since its launch in 2009, including six students who earned certificates in 2017-18:

The certificate offers an exciting way to “mainstream religion” across curriculum, especially important for students where knowledge of religion is increasingly vital to their vocations and professions.

• Megan Janetsky, Journalism

• Joseph Bianchi, Science, Technology, and Society • Sam Byers, Political Science • Sarah Harris, History • Laura Mandt, Criminal Justice & Criminology • Matt Schmitt, Political Science STUDENT PROGRAMS

• 19

FRIENDS OF THE CENTER Gifts from Friends of the Center directly support research and education initiatives of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.

Your contributions fund student fellowship programs; advance cutting-edge research; bring innovative thinkers, writers, and practitioners to campus; and help build a network for research and dissemination that includes students, faculty, civic leaders, professionals, practitioners, and policy experts. The Center thanks the many Friends who contributed to our sustained our work during the 2017-18 academic year. Lifetime Friends

Silver (up to $250)

Ann Hardt Stan and Tochia Levine Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Richard and Elaine Morrison Doug and Becky Pruitt John Roberts John Whiteman

Anonymous (3) Julius Altman Sarah Auffret Michael Austill Patricia Bauer Charles and Rebecca Berry Eugene and Wildith Brady John Carlson Matt Correa Robert and Fran Culligan Robert and Rosemary Fitzsimmons Carolyn Forbes John Franklin Al Gephart Gwyn Goebel Prem and Jiwan Goyal Gisela Grant Terrence Gregg Jennifer Grossman Rev. Earl and Mrs. Holt Doris Horn Sol Jaffe Sarah Lords Anne Mardick Catherine May Robert and Linda McCormick Sandra McKenzie Matt Korbeck and Karen McNally Dale Kalika and Robert McPhee Roy and Mary Miller Jeanne Miyasaka Catherine O’Donnell Ingrid and Emmett O’Grady Richard Overstake Laurie Perko Arnold Rabin

Platinum (up to $25,000) Anonymous Penny Davis John and Judith Ellerman Margaret Gooch Jerry Hirsch Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday Rich and Sally Lehman Gold (up to $2,500) Bijan and Fariba Ansari Cynthia Jewett Thomas and Barbara Leard Kevin and Yolanda McAuliffe Maroon (up to $1,000) Anonymous (2) Susan and Bill Ahearn Linell Cady Mary Kathleen Collins Robert and Denise DiCenso Jeffrey and Anne Gray David Lincoln Greg Altschuh and Janis Lipman Herb and Laura Roskind

20 •


Pawan Rehill Aleda Richter-West Brenda Ringwald Roger Robinson Fatima Mohamed Said Warren and Martha Salinger Cayetano Santiago Cliff and Patricia Schutjer Mary and Steve Serlin Terry Shoemaker Chester Shupe John Urbine Joseph Peter Urbine Sandra Whitley Gwen Williams

Investing in the Center has a positive impact on students, faculty, and the community. To make a donation online, go to asufoundation.org/religionandconflict. To make a donation by mail, checks may be made payable to the ASU Foundation/CSRC and sent to:




d c ge bli g ga pu in en in ss ct, g le ly scu fli din op al di on uil pe nu ts , c eb an ven ion ac e lig pe re nd a

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict Arizona State University PO Box 870802 Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 To make a major gift, contact Gwyn Goebel, Major Gifts Officer, at (480) 965-9882 or Gwyn.Goebel@asu.edu.


d he is ts bl pu d ec s de oj le un pr tic f h ar om arc se re

5 14

All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for a New American University, a separate nonprofit organization that exists to support ASU. The full amount of your contribution may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions. Annual contributions may be acknowledged in Center publications, including our annual report, newsletters, or on our website. If you do not want your name published, please notify our office.


0 15


s te ia o fil t he re af ting d t utu lty u an of f cu rib h fa nt arc ion ns co se cat tio re u ra ed ene g

50 $1 +


p d hi e rs rd la wa ho a sc ing ts of nd en fu tud s


• 21

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict


PO Box 870802 | Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 480.965.7187 | 480.965.9611 (fax) csrc@asu.edu | csrc.asu.edu

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.