The Project

The project Christianity and Religious Pluralism in the Modern Middle East: International Politics and Religion at the turn of the 20th and 21st century aims to produce a ground-braking, originally new framework of analysis for the examination of the Middle East and the relation between Religion and Politics.

It will be the first comprehensive comparative analysis of the Christians in the Middle East after the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war and the emergence of ISIS. It aims to bring Christian communities back to the forefront of Political Science and Area Studies from relative research oblivion. Despite the number of important studies on individual Middle East Churches and communities, there is neither comparative analysis of these Churches and communities nor adequate examination of the contribution of these communities to regional social and political developments (with the exemption of the Copts and the Maronites).

Also, it will be a totally fresh approach to Middle East international politics looking at them not through the lens of Islam and the interaction between state and Islam but by examining the diverse minority Christian communities and their Churches. Moreover, it would connect them to their global diaspora and would present the symbolic and ideological value of issues such as the status quo of the Holy Places in Jerusalem.

Until today religious differences have been dealt as security challenges, and the focus has been on the continuing violent conflict with a multilayered network of radical Islamists. The project will provide a new groundwork for theorizing on Religion and Politics that is to examine religion and religious diversity as complex challenges of societies in transition.

The project would be carried out in the framework of the Centre of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Peloponnese ( CEMMIS is an interdisciplinary research team of the Department, which in the last 10 years has been covering a large geographic range that includes North Africa, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Muslim communities in Europe. Broad in scope, CEMMIS brings together the various areas of disciplinary expertise in international relations, comparative politics, social anthropology, religious and cultural studies. CEMMIS is the longest-running center of Middle East expertise in Greece.

The Project is financially supported by a research grant of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation.