CORDIS - EU research results
CORDIS

Sacralizing Security: Religion, Violence and Authority in Mega-Cities of the Global South

Project description

Understanding the role of religion in the production of non-state authority in the Global South

There has been observed that the order maintenance in mega-cities of the Global South is frequently achieved with the intervention of diverse non-state security actors (vigilantes) who have merged into alternative governance organisations. This phenomenon appears mainly where state agencies cannot provide infrastructure and security to all citizens. Through an ethnographic comparison of three mega-cities, the EU-funded SACRASEC project will explore how the authority of religious vigilantes is produced in mega-cities of the Global South. The case studies will focus on Christian and Afro-Brazilian religion in Rio de Janeiro, Christian, Islamic and Indigenous religion in Lagos, and Islamic and Indigenous religion in Jakarta.

Objective

In mega-cities of the Global South, state agencies often lack the capacity to provide infrastructure and security to all citizens. In such contexts, religious organizations and non-state security actors (vigilantes) have merged into alternative governance organizations.
The emergence of religious vigilantes suggests a different connection between religion and violence than emphasized in current research on religious fundamentalism and terrorism. While religious vigilantes use violence systematically, they generally do not aim to overthrow the state, nor do they seek a global audience to witness their violence. They operate side-by-side with state actors to maintain order.
Major questions are: why do mega-city residents grant these religious vigilantes authority? And what is the role of religion in the legitimation of vigilante practices?
SACRASEC will analyze the production of authority of religious vigilantes in mega-cities of the Global South through an ethnographic comparison of three mega-cities. The case studies focus on Christian and Afro-Brazilian religion in Rio de Janeiro; Christian, Islamic and Indigenous religion in Lagos; and Islamic and Indigenous religion in Jakarta. This comparative focus makes it possible to draw general conclusions about the role of religion in alternative governance, while also enabling an analysis of the particularities of each religious tradition in the context of vigilantism.
This research extends the boundaries of the anthropology of religion and political anthropology. It will provide critically needed knowledge on the power structures in mega-cities of the Global South, and in so doing will contribute important insights to policies aimed at improving human security.

Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT
Net EU contribution
€ 1 975 234,00
Address
HEIDELBERGLAAN 8
3584 CS Utrecht
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 1 975 234,00

Beneficiaries (1)