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Religion and Authoritarianism
Cooperation, Conflict, and the Consequences


Part of Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107037069

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About the Authors
  • This book provides a rare window into the micropolitics of contemporary authoritarian rule through a comparison of religious-state relations in Russia and China - two countries with long histories of religious repression, and even longer experiences with authoritarian politics. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in multiple sites in these countries, this book explores what religious and political authority want from one another, how they negotiate the terms of their relationship, and how cooperative or conflicting their interactions are. This comparison reveals that while tensions exist between the two sides, there is also ample room for mutually beneficial interaction. Religious communities and their authoritarian overseers are cooperating around the core issue of politics - namely, the struggle for money, power and prestige - and becoming unexpected allies in the process.

    • Illustrates how religious organizations survive in oppressive authoritarian regimes
    • Provides a rare window into contemporary authoritarian regimes
    • Based on extensive fieldwork in Russia and China - over 185 interviews with religious leaders, adherents and government officials
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Professor Koesel's book is not only an important primer for understanding the role of religion in autocratic societies and how dictators control the faithful, it also provides us with a new view of the interaction between civil society and authoritarianism. This work deserves to be read as part of the general canon in comparative political science.' Tony Gill, University of Washington, author of The Political Origins of Religious Liberty (Cambridge, 2007)

    'Based on more than two years of field work in China and Russia, this book offers an illuminating account of one of the most remarkable phenomena of the post-Cold War era: the religious revival sweeping the Communist and post-Communist worlds. Koesel rejects a simplistic portrait of repression and resistance in favour of a complex, multilevel pattern of collaboration and reciprocity between state authorities and religious adherents. Her fascinating findings speak not only to area specialists and social scientists of religion, but to those interested in the comparative study of authoritarianism more broadly.' Elizabeth J. Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University

    'This book makes an important contribution to the literature on religious freedom. Based on more than two years of field research on China and Russia, Koesel describes the ways in which leaders of religious institutions often negotiate shared interests with representatives of authoritarian governments, especially at the local level. Her comparative focus and rich theoretical argumentation make this an important book for anyone interested in the civic role of religion.' Donald E., Director, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California

    'Koesel's comparative analysis is rich and persuasive, demonstrating one can theorize about cooperation beyond a single authoritarian case study. While regime type influences religious actors' likelihood of cooperating with autocrats, it does not determine whether local states cooperate with religious organizations. Koesel's findings also suggest incentives leading to cooperation cut across religions. … Koesel's book is a must read for scholars of comparative authoritarianism, the sociology of religion, and Chinese politics and society.' Marie-Eve Reny, Journal of Chinese Political Science

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107037069
    • length: 242 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the politics of religion
    2. Religion and state games
    3. Regulating the religious marketplace
    4. The political economy of religious revival
    5. The politics of faith, power, and prestige
    6. Conclusion: cooperation, conflict, and the consequences.

  • Author

    Karrie J. Koesel, University of Oregon
    Karrie J. Koesel is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, where she specializes in the study of contemporary Chinese and Russian politics, authoritarianism, and religion and politics. Her work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, The China Quarterly and Post-Soviet Affairs. Koesel's research has been supported by grants from The John Templeton Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright program, the International Research and Exchanges Board, the Einaudi Center and East Asia Program at Cornell University, and the University of Oregon. In 2010 she was the recipient of the APSA Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation in religion and politics.

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