This opening seminar of CMI's new research programme Politics of Faith explores contemporary religious resurgence not only as a product of modernization and globalization but as a driving force within these processes. The phenomenon challenges long-held assumptions about the secular nature of modernization. The seminar focuses on national, regional and international religious actors who question the basic tenets of what was earlier seen as the almost teleological goal of social change: a secular society.


Faisal Devji is assistant professor of History at Yale University. His newest book, Landscapes of Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity, explores the features that al-Qaeda and other strands of militant Islam share in common with global movements such as environmentalists and anti-globalization protesters. These include a decentralized organization and an emphasis on ethical rather than properly political action. Devji brings these and other characteristics of al-Qaeda together in an analysis of the jihad it squarely within the transformation of political thought after the cold war.

Oliver Roy describes his book as a "very original book analyzing Al Qaeda and jihad in metaphysical terms, discarding geostrategic and cultural factors. The West is also presented as a metaphysical entity. Globalization is thus not linked to strategy, territory, or culture. There emerge different 'landscapes': of jihad, of mysticism, of media and of film, all of which combine with each other. Jihad may appear extreme, but there is, paradoxically, common ground between jihadists and their opponents.   Devji's original analysis of the writings of Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri is very illuminating and substantiates his iconoclastic approach." Read this and other reviews of the book here

The seminar is free of charge, but please register by email to

Sturla Stålsett,  Secretary General of the Church City Mission, Oslo, and Anne Sofie Roald, Programme Director of Politics of Faith, will also present and participate in a roundtable discussion debating "Global Religious Actors". The session will be chaired by Leif Manger