Religions and acts of violence

Charlotte Groult's picture
Call for Papers
December 1, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Diplomacy and International Relations, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Political Science, Nationalism History / Studies

Violence. An International Journal is launching a call for papers on the theme “Religions and acts of violence”. This theme section will be coordinated by Mohamed ALI-ADRAOUI (Marie Slodowska Curie Fellow, Georgetown University and London School of Economics).

For its general articles’ section, Violence: An International Journal is also welcoming papers that deal with issues of violence and exiting violence. Each issue will be coordinated by its two Editors-in-Chief: Scott STRAUS (UW-Madison) and Michel WIEVIORKA (Foundation Maison des sciences de l’homme).

Theme Argument: Religions and acts of violence

The outbreak of movements and conflicts that adopt violent and sometimes revolutionary religious language has caused certain questions to resurface, about the nature, conditions, and impact of a violence that claims to have a religious affiliation. This report will examine the dynamics of exiting violence and will address specific theoretical and empirical examples in which religious actors, discourses, and imaginaries have intervened to prevent, initiate, strengthen, or support strategies for preventing or exiting violence.

In many religions, in the Arab-Muslim world, as well as in South America, many Asian countries, and elsewhere around the globe, there are political structures that involve religious imaginaries and actors who claim to represent religious communities. These actors insist that they defend the interests, plans, and world views of the religious communities they believe they represent, sometimes changing the language and the social and political parameters of a conflict, even when that conflict does not have religious origins. This aspect is essential, not only for understanding the sociology of certain acts of violence, but also for understanding the mechanisms that may help to exit violence.

This issue will focus more specifically on three aspects of the wider theme of “Religions and acts of violence”. It will take care to examine many different religious traditions and a diverse array of geographical and historical contexts in order to avoid as much as possible any biases that may arise from current events. The goal is to offer a thorough and comparative analysis of phenomena of violence and the exiting from violence that involve religious elements (actors, discourses, imaginaries, etc.).

First, on a conceptual level, how have metaphysics and conditions of violence been understood, and how are they understood today, in various religious traditions? The authors who will work on these questions may or may not be experts in doctrinal content, and they will develop a historico-theological analysis. Some issues that may be studied include: What is the relationship between violence and truth in certain religions? What makes violence just or necessary? Does the term “religious conflict” really make sense? Does the mere existence of religious justification for a war make it a religious war?

Other authors may focus on the historico-sociological dimension of phenomena of violence within a religious framework. These analyses will use specific examples, which could be described by historians, political scientists, sociologists, or anthropologists, to examine the specific contexts and conditions that give rise to a violence that is expressed and legitimized using religion and the sacred. Empirical examples will be taken from all regions of the world to allow for the most varied understanding of the contexts within which violence and religion are intertwined. Possible similarities and differences on geographical, doctrinal, social, or political levels may be discussed. Finally, another interesting topic may be the reading or re-reading of certain religions that orient these religions toward strategies of political and metaphysical violence. For example, we are currently seeing more and more millenarian and eschatological movements within certain religions that have created an entire “theology of war and the end of the world”. Ultimately, what can we say about these phenomena that involve not only a religious concept of the social and political order, but also a sense of history that certain groups hope to simply end in order to bring about some celestial era? These questions will also give us the opportunity to look more closely at contexts that blend politics and religion: Can we create a typology of conflicts involving religiously-minded actors? Can the categories of “politics” and “religion” be separated within a conflict? Are there indicators that we can use to measure the influence of a religious factor on a social phenomenon?

Finally, this report will focus on the dynamics of preventing and exiting violence and will address specific theoretical and empirical examples in which religious actors, discourses, and imaginaries have taken action to prevent, initiate, strengthen, or support efforts to prevent or exit violence. More specifically, we will need to analyze to what extent religion has had a positive or negative effect on the desire to prevent and end logics of violence, and to highlight the potential specificities of the intervention of religion in exiting violence. Some examples may include the issue of repentance, which may lead some actors, in the name of the very religion for which they have chosen to fight, to seek the means and justifications for exiting violence and armed conflicts. Some conflicts, in Latin America for example, ended when some of the key actors re-examined their religious heritage or even changed religion in order to condemn past violence and to be personally “reborn” into a new moral reality, one of forgiveness and atonement. In a similar vein, some phenomena associated with exiting violence have seen religion used to retroactively justify past crimes. This allowed some criminals to see their actions during conflicts as part of a spiritual and religious repertoire, becoming the “armed wing” of a cosmic project, of which they were ultimately mere servants. What can we make of this retroactive use of religion?

About Violence: An International Journal

Today, violence, in all its forms, constitutes a vast field of research in the social sciences.

The same is not true of preventing and exiting violence, which do not have their own well-structured space within the humanities. Much more empirical than theoretical, understanding of these issues is produced more by actors (NGOs, associations), experts, and practitioners than by social science scholars.

Violence: An International Journal endeavors to gather together and support a large community of scholars and practitioners, focusing on two complementary yet distinct scientific and intellectual issues: the analysis of violence, in its diverse manifestations, and preventing and exiting violence.

In doing so, Violence: An International Journal aims to develop understanding about violence, but also to build up a delineated field of research for preventing and exiting violence, with its contributions and debates.

Each issue will open with a series of general articles, which will be followed by a theme section, composed by articles, debates and interviews. Violence: An International Journal will also make a special effort to link together research in the social sciences and other fields of knowledge, forging bonds with literary and artistic circles in particular, with contributions dealing with exiting violence through the lens of art.

Violence: An International Journal has the ambition to reach a readership composed of academics, but also a larger audience, including the actors involved in preventing and exiting violence: NGOs, associations, politics, legal experts, and civil society. Articles for Violence. An International Journal will nonetheless go through the usual process of academic journals. Once accepted by the Editorial Board, each article will be sent for peer-review. Changes may then be asked to the author.

Violence: An International Journal has been created in line with the activities of the Violence and Exiting Violence Platform, established in 2015 within the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris. The Platform brings together some three hundred scholars worldwide, with an international and cross-disciplinary focus. The journal will be published twice a year by Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, and will be available in English and in French.


Articles should include a summary, a detailed bibliography and a short biography. Each article should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length (including footnotes, bibliography, biography). It should be sent, preferably, in Word format and use, systematically, Harvard Reference Style, as follows:


Clark JM and Hockey L (1979) Research for Nursing. Leeds: Dobson Publishers.

Book chapter

Gumley V (1988) Skin cancers. In: Tschudin V and Brown EB (eds) Nursing the Patient with Cancer. London: Hall House, pp.26–52.

Journal article

Huth EJ, King K and Lock S (1988) Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. British Medical Journal 296(4): 401–405.

Website National Center for Professional Certification (2002) Factors affecting organizational climate and retention. Available at: (accessed 10 July 2010).

Newspaper / Magazine

Clark JM (2006) Referencing style for journals. The Independent, 21 May, 10.

We ask you to pay particular attention to the quality of your writing style.

Violence: An International Journal will be published in English and in French. You can write your article in either one of this two languages; Violence. An International Journal will take care of the translation.

To contribute to Violence: An International Journal, you have two possibilities:

  1. You can send an article, fully written, either for the general articles’ section or for a theme section;
  2. Otherwise, you can send a preliminary proposal, either for the general articles’ section or for a theme section.

Your preliminary proposal should be detailed enough to allow the Editorial Board to clearly understand your hypotheses, concepts and main arguments, as well as your theoretical approach and research findings, and, possibly, the main references your article will be based on.

Your proposition will be rapidly evaluated by the Editorial Board. If it is approved, you will have to send a complete version of your article within given deadlines, indicated below.


Preliminary proposals for the theme section “Religions and acts of violence” must be send before June 30th 2019.

Fully written articles for the theme section “Religions and acts of violence” must be sent before December 1st 2019.

You can send articles or preliminary proposals for the general articles’ section throughout the year.

Submission of articles

Contact Info: 

Charlotte Groult

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