2019 Best Book Award in Religion and International Relations, International Studies Association.
2018 Honorable Mention for the Rothschild Prize, Association for the Study of Nationalities.
Under what conditions does in-group pride facilitate out-group tolerance? What are the causal linkages between intergroup tolerance and socialization in religious rituals? Mikhail A. Alexseev’s and Sufian N. Zhemukhov’s book, Mass Religious Ritual and Intergroup Tolerance: The Muslim Pilgrims’ Paradox (Cambridge University Press, 2017), examines how Muslims from Russia’s North Caucasus returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca both more devout as Muslims and more tolerant of out-groups. Drawing on prominent theories of identity and social capital, the authors resolve seeming contradictions between the two literatures by showing the effects of religious rituals that highlight within-group diversity at the same time that they affirm the group’s common identity. This theory is then applied to explain why social integration of Muslim immigrants has been more successful in the USA than in Europe and how the largest Hispanic association in the US defied the clash of civilizations theory by promoting immigrants’ integration into America’s social mainstream. The book is part of Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics.
Reviews & endorsements
Alexseev and Zhemukhov have written a beautiful book. Combining political science’s trademark rigor with the depth of insight characteristic of historical ethnography, the authors document how a ritual that exposes someone intensely to the diversity of their own large group can also generate pro-social attitudes toward members of other groups – even in sites of ongoing conflict. Filled with fascinating personal stories and insight about Russia’s North Caucasus and Islam, the book gives cause for optimism regarding the human condition more generally. Henry E. Hale, George Washington University.
The standard narrative about ‘radicalization’ draws a straight line between religious fervor and political action. But in this truly pathbreaking study, two prominent experts demonstrate the opposite: that the experience of going on a pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites can lead to more tolerant attitudes when pilgrims return home. I hope that every student of religion, sociology, and political science reads this book – and that journalists and global policymakers take note of these vital findings about how many Muslims actually practice their faith. Charles King, Georgetown University.
In this unusual book two co-authors with different academic, cultural, and religious backgrounds set out to directly explore the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage, a major collective ritual practiced by humans. They go beyond the classical Durkheimian insight that rituals generate social solidarity and demonstrate, empirically as well as theoretically, that such solidarity could even transcend the boundaries of religion itself. Georgi M. Derluguian, New York University, Abu Dhabi.
This book deserves much more attention in the current political climate in the United States as well as around the globe. It spotlights a timely and crucial topic by exploring the association among religion, the integration of immigrants to host countries, and Islam and democracy association. Teachers can and should use this book as an example to show a combination of ethnography, historical analysis, quantitative methods, as well as a social-political study… and a collaboration by a native researcher and a non-native researcher, increasing the enrichment and objectivity of the study. Ismail Hakki Digit, Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies.
“Mass Religious Ritual and Intergroup Tolerance” is an important contribution in what the study of the “social in the religious” can tell us about society and religion. The theory presented has unique implications across fields frompolitical science and sociology to religion and anthropology… Beyond the Hajj and the additional contexts the authors explore, Alexseev and Zhemukhov’s broader social tolerance model is sure to encourage and enlighten scholarly work on how groups created by various cleavages can leverage intense in-group experiences to develop out-group acceptance. Feyaad Allie, Nationalities Papers.