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PLT1120 - Fanatics and Fundamentalists: the Global Politics of Violence

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Pete Lentini, David Wright-Neville


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This subject explores the political phenomenon of violence committed in the name of culture and religion. It begins with an examination of how different forms of cultural expression can either reinforce or subvert established political hierarchies. Drawing on case studies of religiously motivated terrorism, the subject then moves on to investigate the political and social conditions that appear most likely to nurture to growth of violent forms of cultural resistance. The subject concludes with a study into the likely implications that different forms of cultural violence have for both domestic and global politics.


  1. To develop in students a sophisticated introductory understanding of
    1. culture and religion as contested political concepts; (b) how cultural and religious revivalisms have become organizing principles for new forms of political activism; (c) the political and social circumstances that sometimes lead to cultural and religious violence; and
    2. the impact of such forms of violence on personal freedoms and international security.
  2. To develop student's understanding of how political struggles centring on culture and religion are manifest in the public sphere - especially in mass and popular media - and the role these institutions sometimes play in driving cultural and religious violence.
  3. To foster in students a sophisticated introductory understanding of the challenge posed to traditional forms of political organization by culturally and religiously motivated groups that use violence to achieve political ends.
  4. To enhance student's ability to contribute in a constructive way to public debates in areas ranging from the ethnic and cultural rights, as well as other issues including counter-terrorism and national security.


Class essay (500 words): 10%
Major essay (2000 words): 50%
Seen examination (2 hours): 40%

Contact hours

3 hours (2 x 1 hour lectures and 1 x 1 hour tutorial) per week