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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.

The Protestant Political Thought project

The Protestant Political Thought project (PPT) is a DAAD-funded collaboration between the Centre and the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford which explores the historical and contemporary intersections of Protestant theology and politics, with particular interest in the recent rise of Christian nationalism and populism and its ideological heritage. The project is headed by Marietta van der Tol (Oxford) and Sophia Johnson (Cambridge). The project encapsulates a broad, diverse network of historians, theologians, political scientists, anthropologists, and lawyers who come at the topic of religion and politics from different angles. The regular activities of the project include academic reading groups, one for undergraduates and one for postgraduates and faculty, an annual conference in the spring, and small-group workshops hosted bi-annually. From these activities, the PPT aims to provide not just historical accounts and analysis of current events, but solutions to the harmful effects of religious-political radicalisation, especially as they arise within historically Protestant countries. 

In 2021, the PPT project was focused on global perspectives on political theology. Our reading group was split into two series: the first on Black political theologies and the second on global political theologies more broadly, focusing on the global South. We had a number of speakers from diverse backgrounds present to us on topics such as African-American responses to White Evangelical nationalism, the Christian rhetoric of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and the theology of persecuted religious minorities in Southeast Asia. Due to the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, we held two online public webinars jointly with the Blavatnik in lieu of our annual conference, bringing together panels of experts from different areas to discuss some of the most pertinent issues of our time: “Racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism: Othering and the Weakness of Christian Identity” and “Seeking the Common Good: The Role of Churches in a Post-Secular and Post-Christendom Context.” These webinars were incredibly well-attended, with over 200 attendees at each, and have had several hundred views on YouTube since being posted. Additionally, three journal special issues were published in the last year from papers presented at our 2020 online conference “Nationalism, Populism, and Protestant Political Thought,” including the publication of all of the papers presented at the adjacent DAAD workshop, “Old Testament Imaginaries of the Nation in German, Dutch, and Anglo-American Political Thought” in the October 2021 issue of De Gruyter’s The Journal of the Bible and Its Reception. We are looking forward to our 2022 spring conference, "Christian Identity in National, Transnational, and Local Space: Perspectives from Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism," as well as two workshops in the summer of 2022: at the University of Utrecht on Protestant response to forced migration and at the University of Helsinki on the politics of missionaries.  

Mass Atrocity Prevention and Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

Beginning in April 2020, Centre Research Associate, Thomas Peak, hosted a series of panel events covering various aspects of Mass Atrocity Prevention and Responsibility to Protect (R2P). The work confronts challenging subjects and explores critical topics for the future of the global order. This programme included an examination into the existing legal limits to the Security Council Veto during mass atrocities and the tools provided by R2P for reducing conflict related sexual violence. The R2P series has engaged a global audience of students, academics, and policy makers. The programme culminated in the two-day 'IR2P Symposium - Intervention and Responsibility to Protect: Past, Present and Futures', delivered in partnership with the Journal Global Responsibility to Protect and the Centre for Grand Strategy at King's College London. Participants presented cutting-edge research on this perennial problem of world politics from scholars based on five continents, and the two Keynote Conversations (featuring Jennifer Welsh, Karen Smith, Jonathan Powell, and Lawrence Freedman) were especially insightful. In 2022, Global Responsibility to Protect will publish a Special Issue featuring a selection of papers presented at the conference and a special roundtable discussion on the future of international intervention. 

National Security and Terrorism

Our Affiliated Lecturer, Suzanne Raine, has written and spoken widely about risk management and national security, including for the Cabinet Office, Royal United Services Institute, King's College London, and as a witness for two parliamentary Committees: the Joint Committee on national Security Strategy and the House of Lords Risk Assessment and Risk Planning Committee. Her work on terrorism and risk became especially relevant as the US withdrew from Afghanistan. The centre has also produced a number of podcasts which interviewed experts on terrorism and extremism including the UK's Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism.