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Religion on the Battlefield: How Religious Practices Shape Strategic Decisions in Modern Wars

Professor Ron Hassner, UC Berkeley

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Bunche Hall, Room 10383
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Religion, State & Society Lecture Seriesco-sponsored by UCLA Center for the Study of Religion

How do sacred time, sacred space, and sacred authority affect modern combat between professional military forces?  Professor Hassner argues that these sacred phenomena act as both constraints and motivators on the planning and execution of military operations by shaping the organizational culture of a military as well as its tactical environment.  On the one hand, regard for the sacred and a concern over desecration, be it in relation to the combatants’ own religious proclivities or those of third parties, introduces an element of caution into the execution of operations.  At other times, the symbolic force inherent in these holy days, sites, and leaders motivates troops.  At yet other instances, combatants exploit the vulnerabilities that arise from their opponents’ reverence for sacred times, shrines, or persons.  Professor Hassner illustrates these processes with example from recent wars, including the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

About the Speaker

Ron E. Hassner is Associate Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley. His research revolves around symbolic and emotive aspects of international security with particular attention to religious violence, Middle Eastern politics and territorial disputes. His publications have focused on the role of perceptions in entrenching international disputes, the causes and characteristics of conflicts over sacred places, the characteristics of political-religious leadership and political-religious mobilization and the role of national symbols in conflict.

His book War on Sacred Grounds (Cornell 2009) examines the causes and characteristics of disputes over sacred places around the globe and analyzes the conditions under which these conflicts can be managed.   Professor Hassner has also published on the topic of religion and conflict in International SecuritySecurity StudiesCivil WarsJournal of International Affairs, Washington Quarterly and others and has contributed chapters on similar themes to several edited volumes.


Pay-per-space parking is available in UCLA Structure 3, near the corner of Hilgard and Wyton (turn right onto Wyton and follow the street until you see signs for Lot 3 Pay-per-space). 

How to Park at UCLA

Cost: Free and open to the public


Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies

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