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“RELIGION, POLITICS AND GLOBALIZATION – IMPLICATIONS FOR THAILAND AND ASIA”,
by Dr. Canan Atilgan
Globalization is a predominant theme in contemporary educational and political circles. Research on globalization has become a political priority due to the fact that the world has become a 'single place' where local events may have world-wide consequences. However, the discussion for most is primarily an economic one, although cultural and religious consequences are inevitable. Globalization entails and accelerates the promotion of traditional culture and religious traditions. It has blurred the connection between a religion, a pristine culture, a specific society and a territory. As a consequence, around the world, religion has become an increasingly more vital and pervasive force in both personal and public life. At the start of the twenty-first century, the nexus between religion and politics is a dominating factor affecting global affairs.
Basically, there is nothing totally new in the combination of religion and politics. New are the renewed strength and the globalized aspect of religions. What exacerbates the present situation is that the stable structures of life and governing power have visibly broken down in many quarters of the globe.
Many respond to modernity and globalization by moving religions into the centre of their lives. It is the position of people who feel they are losing the fight and, in desperation, supplanted religion by radical reformulation, as also happened in earlier episodes.
This allows religious movements to capture the mantle of populist, anti- imperialist nationalism, easily the most powerful political resource formerly controlled by secular nationalist and leftist movements. In fact, religion or religiosity serves as substitute to nationalism. However, what is characteristic to Religions today is neither its local particularity nor its bounded nationality but, rather, its multifaceted globality.
This volume contains the accounts of the international seminar in Bangkok on “Religion, Politics and Globalization – Implication for Thailand and Asia”, co-organized by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Assumption University on June 25-26, 2009. Asia is a plural and heterogeneous region, characterised by enormous ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. The rapid advance of globalization has drastically altered the political and economic landscapes of most Asian countries. Transformation of traditional communal societies and their consolidation into a larger modern civil society has been complicated by ethnic conflicts and religious rivalries. Therefore, it is worth looking closely at the interplay between religion, politics and globalisation.
In cooperation with the Assumption University’s Graduate School of Philosophy and Religion distinguished academicians could be won for this project, which certainly will contribute to a further academic debate about the ways in which religion and politics should relate to each other, about how to reconcile faith and globalization in Asia. The successful completion of this challenging project however is thanks to the commitment of Dr. Imtiyaz Yusuf, whose work and expertise have been invaluable.
The seminar and the publication are part of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s activities undertaken to promote greater understanding between nations, countries and religions. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has been known for a long time by its programmes for international dialogue and cooperation. We value dialogue as an important component of the foundations overall cooperative approach in conducting activities in more than a hundred countries worldwide. On the national and international level, we conduct civic education to promote peace, freedom, and justice. Our key concerns include consolidating democracy, promoting interreligious and intercultural understanding, intensifying international relations, and development-policy cooperation.
In Thailand, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has been active almost for 30 years with the primary goal to promote democratic structures, pluralism and the rule of law based on values. Therefore the Foundation cooperates closely with local partners in the pursuit of common vision for human development, societal progress and political and social stability. Our commitment to that vision of a more free and prosperous development shall be a source of inspiration for our activities also in the future.
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