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

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

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

After nearly 20 years and across three successive U.S. administrations, it is clear that a bipartisan consensus exists among senior foreign affairs leadership that engaging religious actors to advance key American diplomatic, national security, and development objectives needs to be a priority. With some 84 percent of the world’s population expressing a faith affiliation, the role of religion as a social force around the world—and one that figures centrally in many peacebuilding contexts—cannot be ignored in our foreign relations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Whither Islam in Afghanistan’s Political System After the Taliban Talks?

Whither Islam in Afghanistan’s Political System After the Taliban Talks?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

The question of how and where Islam should fit into future legal and political frameworks has emerged as a major sticking point in the talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar. How this question is resolved will be closely watched by Afghans, who want to ensure their hard-won rights are not sacrificed for the sake of a deal with the Taliban—Afghan women in particular have much at stake. The international community will similarly scrutinize the outcome, and their engagement with Afghanistan after the talks is expected to be conditioned on the contours of any political settlement.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

ReligionPeace Processes

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.;  Melissa Nozell

By more fully understanding the role of religion in violent extremism and adopting a broad-based and inclusive approach to engaging religious actors, policymakers and practitioners can better advance countering violent extremism objectives. In this report, a former senior policy adviser and a USIP senior specialist explore the nexus of religion and violent extremism.

Type: Special Report

ReligionViolent Extremism

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