The purpose of this article is to use René Girard’s mimetic theory in order to rethink the thorny relationship between religion, culture and violence and to relate it to some of the key issues in international relations theory. In doing this, I will examine the concept of the ‘ambivalence of the sacred’, which underlies much scholarly research on religion and international relations – what factors, under which conditions, does religion contribute to peace or to violence. As I will show, mimetic theory questions, or at least reconfigures, the mainstream construction of the problem of religion and violence – the violent eruptions that disturb social peace and social cohesion – to critically examine the sources of the unveiled, hidden, violence and the scapegoat ideology that operates in domestic society and in foreign policy to maintain any society’s cultural and political order.
- mimetic theory
- international relations theory