Islamist Visions of World Order in a Liberal-Secular World
Throughout the last 20 years, the phenomenon of the resurgence of religion in international politics has challenged both decision-makers and academics. In particular, there is a growing public attention for political Islam after 9/11 and, more recently, the “Arab Spring” that is often characterised by scepticism, sometimes fearfulness: The perception that Islamist actors act violently and irrationally and endanger a peaceful global order is common not only in Western publics, but also among politicians and scholars. This PhD project will deal with the discursive encounter between so-called Islamist actors and the current world order. More specifically, it will try to answer the following questions: How do “Islamists” understand, criticise and challenge the current world order that is marked by liberal-secular structural elements? Which alternatives of world order do they imagine and pursue? Which potentials for cooperation or dangers of conflict arise from this challenge of liberal-secular hegemony? The goal of my project is twofold: Empirically, I will explore how “Islamist” actors as the alleged “Other” in the hegemonic liberal-secular discourse deal with and frame their encounters with the current world order. This includes both criticism of the current as well as visions of an alternative world order. More specifically, I will deal with Islamists’ ideas on sovereignty, legitimate authority and civilizational teloi. Theoretically, I would like to gain a better understanding of the role of religion in international relations by trying to bridge the gap between the hitherto secular vocabulary of International Relations theory and “Islamists’” non-secular language. The project will proceed in two steps. In the theoretical part, I will develop a model of world order and reconstruct how the liberal-secular discourse constructs the “Islamist” subject as a threat to a liberal world order, before changing the perspective to those “Islamists” in the empirical part of my work. Here, I will analyse the discourse of four “Islamist” actors (Hezbollah, an-Nahda, the governments of Iran and Saudi-Arabia) and explore their strategies of criticising liberal-secular hegemony and creating visions of world order, thereby trying to gain discursive power. This will allow me to draw conclusions about possible shifts in power relations and potentials of cooperation and conflict in global politics.
Arabischer Frühling, Internationale Beziehungen, Islamismus, Politische Theorie, Säkularismus, liberale Weltordnung