Robert M. Bosco is Associate Professor of International Studies at Centre College, where he teaches courses in International Relations, Critical Theory, International Law, and Religion and International Relations. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and was a Research Fellow in Religion and International Relations at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government.
The focus of Bosco’s work is on how ostensibly secular governments deal with religious ideas and actors in a time of heightened insecurity. His well-received 2009 article “Persistent Orientalisms: The concept of religion in International Relations” laid the groundwork in this regard. His first book, Securing the Sacred: Religion, National Security, and the Western State (2014, University of Michigan Press) provided a critical, comparative analysis of the ways in which the UK, France, and U.S. governments sought to intervene in the religion of Islam for reasons of national security. The book finds points of continuity between post-9/11 Western state policies toward religion and the principle of jus reformandi, or right to reform religion, claimed by emerging territorial states during the Reformation. A review of Securing the Sacred appears in the pages of Critical Research on Religion (Hassner, 2015). Bosco’s current project looks at contemporary ways in which the U.S., France, and the UK governments deal with matters of religion, highlighting potential issues regarding freedom of thought and conscience.
In addition to his work on Western states and Islam, Robert has also worked on the Buddhist tradition. His 2014 article “Battlefield Dharma: American Buddhists in American Wars” (Journal of Buddhist Ethics) examined how American Buddhist soldiers and military chaplains deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan grappled with the ethics of war and killing. His current work on Buddhism explores the challenge of compassion for the ‘terrorist’ from the perspective of Buddhist tradition.