The Interplay between Religion and Mainstream International Diplomacy


Abrahim H. Khan


This paper problematizes the interplay of religion and modern international diplomacy, nowadays considered as part of International Relation (IR), to better understand the subtle ways in which the two interact at a global level. Four examples are considered of how religion is configured in the social and cultural life of a nation and together add up to a challenge of the Westphalian privileging of an epistemology that relegates religion to the private sphere and that informs much of foreign policy thinking well into the start of this century. The examples are with respect to either a historical, contemporary or ideological situation. Their consideration sheds light on factors that are not perceived by normal theories of conflict or by analyses of political, military, or economic events, or even by templates used in international diplomacy until the start of this century. The general thrust of the presentation is to gain a better understand why humans fight, and when and why they make peace, and thereby become more and better informed in  foreign policy thinking and for a civilizational dialogue.


Abrahim H. Khan is professor of philosophy of religion and cross-cultural and comparative studies in religion at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. He is the convenor of the Religion, International Diplomacy, and Economics Colloquia Series at the University of Toronto.

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