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This chapter examines the impact of the fusion between religious claims and nationalism on state policies – domestically, regionally, and internationally. It offers a comparative perspective on the extent to which religious claims bestow sacredness on the state’s workings of power – or what we define as sacralized politics. The chapter analyzes how, through hegemonic nationalism, states invoke religious claims to legitimize political and national strategic goals in domestic and international politics. To trace the matrix of power that sacralization of politics mobilizes, and when looking comparatively at various case studies, the chapter points to three main (among other) modes of sacralization’s profound impact on politics. The first operates through managing consciousness, including the construction of self-identity in relation to others; the second, through territoriality and the politics of land claims; and the third via political governance, using violence and a necropolitical regime of control. While each mode can operate separately, all operate through mutual reinforcement and each with elements of sacredness, resulting in an emergent power structure that is self-sustaining, religiously infused, and resistant to change.
The chapter explores how politics are sacralized in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, a colonized space. It analyzes the interlocking dynamics between Israel’s settler-colonial governance and religious and nationalist Zionism. The chapter closely examines Israel’s modalities of violence and the ways in which they form and inform the state’s policy, thereby uncovering Israel’s sacralization of politics in occupied East Jerusalem (oEJ). The chapter shares the political significance of such interlocking exchanges over three sites and experiences within oEJ: (1) law and legal practices; (2) a specific type of violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers against Palestinians known as “Price Tag”; and (3) the “occupation of the senses” (Shalhoub-Kevorkian 2017). The chapter concludes by demonstrating the way global politics, local settler-colonial politics, and national laws, far from being neutral, are embedded in a biopolitical regime that subordinates the colonized. The sacralization of politics in Israel is supported by an ongoing global settler-colonial movement, which claims that the Jewish people have exclusive rights to the “promised land.” This movement has produced a Jewish state whose oppression, discrimination, exploitation, and cruelty against the Palestinians is essential to its governance.
Over the years, there have been increasing intersections between religious claims and nationalism and their power to frame and govern world politics. When Politics Are Sacralized interdisciplinarily and comparatively examines the fusion between religious claims and nationalism and studies its political manifestations. State and world politics, when determined or framed by nationalism fused with religious claims, can provoke protracted conflict, infuse explicit religious beliefs into politics, and legitimize violence against racialized groups. This volume investigates how, through hegemonic nationalism, states invoke religious claims in domestic and international politics, sacralizing the political. Studying Israel, India, the Palestinian National Movement and Hamas, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iran, and Northern Ireland, the thirteen chapters engage with the visibility, performativity, role, and political legitimation of religion and nationalism. The authors analyze how and why sacralization affects political behaviors apparent in national and international politics, produces state-sponsored violence, and shapes conflict.
There was a big explosion in the vegetable market, in the middle of the city: Someone came and put a basket with explosives under the vegetable carts, and it exploded on Wednesday when the market was packed with people. Body parts were on the walls and everywhere. Our house is about half a mile from the place; we heard the explosion, and my father sent me [to the market] when I was a child – this was in ’48. I had a brother who used to work in the butcher shop [in the market], and I saw the scene, the remains, the blood, and the hole in Isfelt [Street]. Of course, all the people who were around the explosion were blown to pieces.