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What is the Hizmet Movement? Contending Approaches to the Analysis of Religious Activists In World Politics

In: Sociology of Islam
Author:
Sabine Dreher Department of International Studies, Glendon College-York University, Canada, sdreher@yorku.ca

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The goal of this article is to understand the role of religious activists in world politics from an international relations (IR) perspective. The paper proposes a critical theory of religion and encourages researchers to accept individual religiosity, class, and identity in the study of religious actors. The paper develops three avenues of inquiry. First, a better typology of religious actors in world politics is needed to classify them in their political and social contexts. Second, citing the example of Turkey’s Hizmet Movement of Fethullah Gülen, the central role played by economic engagement is analyzed from a neo-Gramscian perspective in International Political Economy (IPE). In so doing, Hizmet is presented as a non-western expression of neoliberal globalization and as part of the “globalizing elite.” Lastly, Hizmet’s international activities are presented as potentially having unforeseen consequences in the light of its creation and reproduction as a transnational social space.

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