Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Catholicgauze's Presentation for the 2010 AAG: Geography of Religious Wars

Today is the beginning of the 2010 Association of American Geographers convention in Washington DC. For this year's convention I am presenting the Geography of Religious Wars. My interests in religions, wars, and geography merged for this project. My notes for each slide are below the respective slide.

Though many religions preach peace, either amongst themselves or towards all humanity, the major religions of the world are filled with calls to arms. Some holy texts' calls to arms, like the in Bible, are usually reserved for particular divine-called wars while others, legalistic religions, can issue universal demands for violence in certain situations.

Religion has been the cause of wars, been used as a tool to unite forces, and replaced original causes to turn a secular war into a religious war. It also has been wrongly attributed to conflicts. Northern Ireland has seen Protestant Irish nationalists and atheist Unionists.

There has been a shift in religious control from conservative forces to revolutionary groups in the past decades. Highly motivated actors and groups are no longer satisfied with a traditional status quo but instead they want to establish "God's Kingdom on Earth." The decentralization of warfare has given these groups the ability to cause great harm.

The term "bloody borders of Islam" is only partially true. Jihadist groups not only fight secularists, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhist but also Muslims. The vast majority of those killed by Islamic terrorists are in fact Muslim.

The anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan was fought by Islamists, royalists, republicans, and non-Marxist socialists. International funding of religious groups gave Jihadists the edge. Foreign fighters also helped to turn the war into a holy one. After the 1992 fall of the Communist regime the war turned into a political one for control of the country. It was not until 1993/94 and the foundation of the Taliban that a group sought to implement religious value to impose peace.

The Jihadist movement is truly a network war of national groups in a loosely organized international system. While they all treat al Qaeda proper and bin Laden with respect, they are primarily concerned with their own region. "Jihad in one country" is the best analogy I can think of but they can also be compared to the national churches of the Eastern Orthodox Communion with one "first amongst equals" who can advise and end disputes.

Somalia has seen the second emergence of a holy war for peace. The Islamic Court Union and al-Shabaab originally were formed to implement Islam as a unifier of a war torn country. However, there efforts to impose their version of Islam, a puritanical one, has run afoul of Sufis, who are mystics and followers of tradition, who are well armed.

Align Center(Clockwise from upper right: Islamic rioter in Indonesia, Lord's Resistance Army in the Congo, ELN soldiers in Colombia, Islamic Jihad members in Egypt)
Feel free to comment


Anonymous said...

What is the data basis for your findings ?

Catholicgauze said...

Books like Looming Tower, Ghost Wars, The Next Christendom, works by/supporting/against Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, news reports, and personal observations have helped form my presentation.

thegeolady said...

have friends at the conference - wish i was there. have fun.