Religion and Nationalism

Christophe Jaffrelot

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Religion and Nationalism


This article highlights the ambiguous nature of the relationship between religion and nationalism, illustrating this argument with reference primarily to India, but also examining other cases. It studies the relationship while assuming that they are of a different kind and do not relate univocally. There is nothing necessary, automatic, and systematic in the rapport between religion and nationalism. Their relationship has changed over time, and the old never completely disappeared when new configurations emerged. To begin with, nationalism emerged as an emancipatory force, including vis-è-vis religion. But this universalistic brand of nationalism gradually, as is evident in the case of France, had to cohabit with an ethnic one, where religion often played a major role as a key component of the identity in question.

Keywords: India; nationalism; emancipatory force; France; national identity

Article.  5222 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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