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Exploring René Girard’s thought in Security and International Studies

University of Central Lancashire, UK

23-24 May 2013

“Order in human culture certainly does arise from an extreme of disorder, for such disorder is the disappearance of any and all contested objects in the midst of conflict, and it is at such a point that acquisitive mimesis is transformed into conflictual mimesis and tends toward the unification of conflict against an adversary.”

René Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World


René Girard (1923) is arguably one of the most important scholars of our time. His corpus of reflections on religion, violence and mimetic theory has been acknowledged as one of the most striking approaches to human culture ever presented, to the point that it has been argued that his work has changed forever “the way we think about who and where we are” (Philosophy and Literature). In recent years, his thought has been studied and explored in many academic fields, including anthropology and literature, philosophy and sociology, history and psychology. These studies have generated a number of Girard-inspired research engagements and projects as witnessed by the creation of The Colloquium on Violence & Religion (COV&R) and Imitatio. Despite the strong assonance between Girardian themes and contemporary international issues and security challenges, scholars have not yet explored the implications of Girardian ideas for Security and more broadly International Relations.

The aim of the Conference is bring together a range of scholars in international relations, security, social and political theory which may develop a multidisciplinary engagement with René Girard’s work and its relevance for contemporary International Studies. A Special Issue of a journal and/or anedited volume is also envisaged as an outcome of the event.

Keynote Speakers includes:

  • Dr Michael Kirwan, Head of Theology, Heythrop College, University of London and author of Girard and Theology (New York & London: Continuum, 2009); Discovering Girard (London: Darton, 2004)
  • Dr Scott Thomas, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Bath, and author of The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

We invite potential participants from across these disciplines to submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by February 15th 2013 drawing upon, but not limited to, such issues as:


  • The relation between violence, the sacred and the “political”
  • Comparisons between Girard’s thought and that of other classical thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Carl von Clausewitz, Reinhold Niebuhr, Carl Schmitt, Max Weber, Hans Morgenthau, George Bataille, Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben
  • Religion, sovereignty and the sacrality of borders
  • The international system and the “mimetic” balance of power
  • The transcendence/immanence split and political mediation
  • Christendom, political theologies and the origins of modernity
  • War, peace and the victimization process
  • Biopolitics and the sacrality of violence


  • “Mimetic rivalry” and foreign policy
  • Fundamentalisms, extremisms and the scapegoat theory
  • Terrorism, human security and “sacrifice”
  • Capitalism, desire and the victimization of the “other”
  • Revolutions, “mimetic desire” and the scapegoat
  • Nuclear deterrence, imitation mechanism and (in)stability
  • Financial crises and the vicious circle of rivalry

Please send abstracts with “2013 Girard Conference” in subject line to:

Please address any inquiries to:

Dr Antonio Cerella

Lecturer in International Relations

School of Education and Social Sciences

University of Central Lancashire

Preston PR1 2EH

Lancashire, UK

Office: +44 (0) 1772 892798