Peter Mandaville is a senior visiting expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace with the religion and inclusive societies team. He brings 25 years of academic, think tank, and government experience focused on the intersection of religion, international affairs, and the Muslim-majority world.

In addition to his role at USIP, Mandaville is also a professor of international affairs in the Schar School of Policy and Government and the director of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, both at George Mason University. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

From 2011-2012, he was a member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, where he was involved in shaping the U.S. response to the Arab Spring. From 2015-2016 he served as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he helped to set up the new Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Previous affiliations have included the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Pew Research Center.

He is the author of the books “Islam & Politics” and “Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma,” in addition to several co-edited books, many journal articles, book chapters, op-eds, and commentary pieces in outlets such as Foreign Affairs, the International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, The Atlantic Online, and Foreign Policy.

He has testified multiple times before Congress on topics such as political Islam, U.S. counterterrorism policy, and human rights in the Middle East. His research has been supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, the British Council, and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Publications By Peter

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

A Ripe Moment for Building Peace by Promoting International Religious Freedom

Monday, June 27, 2022

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Knox Thames

In late June and early July, two global convenings will highlight challenges to international religious freedom and the search for solutions: the IRF Summit for nongovernmental organizations and the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These timely gatherings will bring together government representatives, activists and faith leaders from different religious, regional and political backgrounds to discuss a common goal of ending persecution. Two keys for their success will be creating diverse coalitions to advance international religious freedom (IRF) in a nonpartisan manner and linking the issue to broader concerns about peace and stability. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsReligion

The Role of Religion in Russia’s War on Ukraine

The Role of Religion in Russia’s War on Ukraine

Thursday, March 17, 2022

By: Aidan Houston;  Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

On March 6, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill stood to deliver the sermon that traditionally ushers in the beginning of the Orthodox Lent. However, the most notable theme of his sermon had little to do with the annual period of Christian fasting. Instead, the patriarch chose to address a subject at the forefront of everyone’s minds: the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionReligion

How Putin Turned Religion’s ‘Sharp Power’ Against Ukraine

How Putin Turned Religion’s ‘Sharp Power’ Against Ukraine

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

Long before Russia positioned military forces along Ukraine’s border or menaced its neighbor with cyber-attacks and economic pressure, Moscow deployed another, under-appreciated weapon increasingly used by rising global powers: the transformation of religious soft power into what is known among some scholars of authoritarianism as “sharp power.” 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionConflict Analysis & Prevention

Advancing Global Peace and Security through Religious Engagement: Lessons to Improve U.S. Policy

Advancing Global Peace and Security through Religious Engagement: Lessons to Improve U.S. Policy

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Chris Seiple, Ph.D.

Since 2001, when the Bush administration created a unit within the White House to work on faith-based initiatives, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have sought to engage religious actors worldwide in support of their diplomatic, development, and defense initiatives. This report, based on the authors’ decades of experience working within and outside government, offers specific suggestions for steps the U.S. government can take to clarify the nature of its religious engagement mission and to better coordinate that mission in relation to its other peacebuilding and national security priorities. 

Type: Special Report

Religion

Finding Common Ground on U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy

Finding Common Ground on U.S. International Religious Freedom Policy

Thursday, May 20, 2021

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Knox Thames;  Emily Scolaro

On May 12, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the Biden administration’s first annual religious freedom report. It was accompanied by a strong speech, highlighting the importance of the issue and singling out countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and Nigeria, among others, for their particularly severe violations. The secretary also made a point to establish that the Biden administration’s approach emphasizes that the right to religious freedom is one component of an integrated human rights agenda. This stands in contrast to others who view religious freedom to be of unique importance and deserving of singular attention. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionHuman Rights

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