RIPT 3 – Religion in Public Talks – Gunes Tezcur on Religious Difference and Mass Violence; Israel Waismel-Manor on “Masking Prejudice”


Paul A. Djupe, Denison University, Political Science,

Amanda J. Friesen, Western University, Political Science,

Avital Livny, University of Illinois, Political Science,

Matthew R. Miles, BYU-Idaho, Political Science,

We invite you to join us for a monthly set of talks about religion and public life. Across the pandemic, one of the innovations that should remain is virtual gatherings to accompany academic conferences. Though there are many groups and organizations now convening such gatherings, missing from this space has been one focused on religion in public life for the professoriate (that is, beyond the excellent work being done for those in their early career by Shayla Olson and Hilary Zedlitz). This has always been needed since those who study religion in political science and sociology tend not to work in departments that host more than one religion scholar. 

  • Meetings will be the first Monday before the first Tuesday of every month, except during the summer months. 
  • They will last about an hour.
  • We hope to run them from 5-6pm (eastern) via Zoom.
  • Each session will feature two 15-20 minute talks (with 10-15 minutes of discussion). 
  • We aim for subfield concentrations; that may be comparative vs. American vs. international relations, or may be political behavior vs. institutions vs. social psychology, etc. 
  • Anyone with a PhD (or advanced graduate students) in the social sciences studying religion and public life is welcome to propose a talk  –  contact any or all of our conveners (emails above). 

To receive the Zoom link, you will need to register here. You can register there for one talk or for all talks. If you have registered for all talks, you do not need to register again.

You can always find the list of future and past presenters at the page.

RIPT 3 will be December 6, 2021, 5-6pm (eastern), with Paul Djupe (Denison University) convening. The presenters and presentations are:

Liminal Minorites: Religious Difference & Mass Violence in Muslim Societies
—Güneş Murat Tezcür, University of Central Florida, Director of the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs  

Abstract  Why do some religious minorities, lacking any significant power and presenting no threat, provoke the ire of popular groups and become targets of violent attacks? I offer the first comparative-historical study of mass atrocities targeting certain religious minorities in Muslim societies. I argue that these faith groups, defined as liminal minorities, are stigmatized across generations, as they lack theological recognition and social acceptance from a dominant religious group. Stigmatization originates from religious differences, gains multiple layers over time, and directly informs popular portrayals of liminal minorities as treacherous political entities. Religious justifications of violence have a strong mobilization power and rarely face countervailing discourses when directed against liminal minorities. These dynamics make liminal minorities particularly vulnerable to attacks during periods of political change generating resentment among members of a majority group. Under conditions of a weakened and fragmented state authority, this group directs its anger toward a liminal minority that makes a convenient scapegoat. The combination of religious hatred and political resentment becomes the spark leading to mass violence.
       Building on this theoretical framework, I elucidate the dynamics of anti-liminal atrocities in Muslim societies; more specifically, anti-Yezidi genocidal attacks in northern Iraq in the 2010s and anti-Alevi massacres in Turkey in the 1970s and 1990s. Utilizing a rich variety of original sources, including in-depth interviews with survivors, field trips, and court documents, case studies of these episodes demonstrate how religious stigmatization and political resentment directly informed the motives of ordinary people who participated in the atrocities. I also offer an overview of the experiences of the Baha’is of Iran and the Ahmadis of Pakistan and Indonesia and argues that the notion of liminality enriches our understanding of broader patterns of discrimination and persecution based on religious differences. I conclude that theological and popular recognition of liminal minorities as legitimate faith groups as being indispensable for sustainable intercommunal coexistence and peace.  

Güneş Murat Tezcür (PhD, University of Michigan, 2005) is the Director of the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs (SPSIA) at the University of Central Florida. He is also the Jalal Talabani Endowed Chair and Professor at SPSIA. He is a social scientist studying political violence, politics of identity, and democratization with a focus on Iranian, Kurdish and Turkish human geography. His scholarship has appeared in many journals including American Political Science ReviewComparative PoliticsDevelopment and Change, Journal of Peace ResearchJournal for the Scientific Study of ReligionLaw and Society ReviewNationalities PapersParty PoliticsPerspectives on PoliticsPolitics & GenderPolitical Research Quarterly, and Third World Quarterly. He is the author of Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of Moderation (University of Texas Press, 2010) and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Turkish Politics (Oxford University Press, 2022) and Kurds and Yezidis in the Middle East: Shifting Identities, Borders, and the Experience of Minority Communities (IB Tauris, 2021).

Masking Prejudice: Perceptions of Religious and Medical Mask Wearing in Israel
—Israel Sergio Waismel-Manor, University of Haifa, Political Science

Abstract Face coverings have become a highly charged political issue in Western countries, raising issues of religious intolerance in the case of Muslim niqabs and objections over personal liberty in the case of medical masks to curb the spread of Covid-19. To investigate questions of prejudice concerning the niqab and attitudes towards health compliance concerning medical mask wearing, we conducted a single factor between-subjects experiment in Israel using an online panel of 400 non-Arab participants. Participants were shown one of three treatment conditions featuring the same, neutral expression ethnically ambiguous female model (equally rated in a pre-test for being Israeli Jew or Israeli Arab) either wearing a niqab face covering, a medical mask, or a ski scarf. In all three conditions, only her eyes and a portion of her face were visible. A control condition featured the same model with her entire face showing. Participants were each shown one stimulus image to evaluate, along with five distractor images of different female models. Respondents rated the images on a series of trait evaluations and whether they would hire the person as a store manager.
Preliminary analyses indicate lower ratings for niqab and head scarf wearing compared to medical mask and maskless conditions. These findings are consistent with the information deficit literature, which would predict that both the niqab and scarf conditions would be evaluated negatively in comparison to the full face because the judgment is based on incomplete information (i.e., only a partial view of the model’s face). No significant differences were found between the niqab and scarf, suggesting that religious prejudice did not play a significant role. The high ratings for the medical mask are probably driven from the timing of the study, February 2020, when the people wearing such masks were medical personnel. 

Israel Sergio Waismel-Manor is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Political Science, University of Haifa. His work focuses on political attitude formation and its effects on voting behavior. His current projects explore the ways in which non-verbal communication, physiological stress, institutional settings and new media influence political preferences and behavior. His research was published in such journals as the Journal of Communication, PLOS One, Political Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, International Journal of Press and Politics, Political Behavior, PS: Political Science and Politics and European Neuropsychopharmacology. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University and Cornell University. His work has been featured in various media outlets including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz.

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