The Politics of Sex Abuse in Sacred Hierarchies: A comparative study of the Catholic Church and the Military.
I am writing a book and several articles that examine how and why the military and the Catholic Church have responded to cases of sexual assault and sex abuse within their institutions as they have, and the conditions under which civil authorities and elected officials do or do not hold the institutions to account. The project, mostly focused on the US, with comparisons to Australia and the United Kingdom, also explores whether the presumed sacredness or sacrosanct auras of the institutions play a role in how the institutions respond and whether public authorities and citizens defer to them. The project was the focus of my work while a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, AY 2017-18. As one part of this project, with Flinn Scholar and former Arizona State University Honors College student Mia Armstrong, I have published an article in Law & Society Review that examines whether, as is sometimes claimed by the media and some members of Congress, the US military’s handling of sexual assault cases is “chaotic”, and what might be the reasons cases are handled in the ways that they are. Another paper, in Journal of Church and State, examines the religious-based child abuse in Ireland and the recalibration of religion-state relations in the aftermath of the scandals.
Religion and Asymmetric Conflict
With Professor David Siroky (Political Science, ASU) and Professor Steven Neuberg in Psychology, I am studying what aspects of religion might enable and inspire relatively small, weak groups, such as ISIS, to engage in violent conflict with much stronger adversaries. We have fielded a large, cross-national study of ethnic and rebel groups, are working on a qualitative, historical comparative study of the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and the Baluchi in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (with Benjamin Smith of University of Florida and Christine Fair of Georgetown University), and conducting lab experiments in the U.S. and India (with Narayanan Srinivasan of Allahabad University). The project should aid the US and its allies in anticipating the emergence of conflict situations, creating interventions to defuse potential conflicts, and managing seemingly intractable current conflicts in many parts of the world. We received funding from the US National Science Foundation, $979,229. IBSS-1416900, and I am the PI.
Broadening Our View of Culture
With Professors Adam B. Cohen (PI, Psychology), Gene A. Brewer (Psychology), Leah D. Doane (Psychology), and Kevin Grimm (Psychology), I am involved in a unique and innovative study of culture. For decades, culture in psychology has been virtually synonymous with ethnicity and nationality. While many advances have been made, a full understanding of culture requires expanding our focus to other forms of culture, including social class, region of origin, religion, profession, gender, political culture, and many others. The proposed work will broaden our understanding of culture via a rigorous, multi-method set of studies, including focus groups, quantitative surveys, and a longitudinal study using ecological momentary assessment techniques, with which we will predict successful adaptation. We will also elucidate the role that cultural memories play in constituting cultural identities. To take maximum advantage of our techniques, we will use the most cutting edge methodological and quantitative approaches to research design and data analysis, including hierarchical linear modeling and full information maximum likelihood estimation to account for attrition and missing data. We will also ensure the measurement invariance of scales before making claims about cultural variation across groups. Our interdisciplinary team, representing social and cultural, developmental, cognitive, and quantitative psychology, is led by principal investigator Adam Cohen, who has forcefully argued for the expansion of psychology’s views of culture. This work will be important in terms of application potential because US military and strategic interests require a full understanding of what culture is, how various cultures affect our goals and behaviors, how various cultural identities change over time, why cultural identities vary in importance over time, and how such variation predicts adaptation. We are funded by the U.S. Army Research Institute for Behavioral and Social Sciences, $1,770,000.
Research on Islam and Sharia
i) With Valery Dzutsati, I am revising a paper which asks, Why do some Muslims support or advocate formal state adoption of sharia law and others do not? In this paper, we analyze the socio-economic bases of support for sharia law. Our findings suggest that there is a relationship between the state’s ability to provide public goods such as social order and welfare and the distribution of support for sharia across social strata. A state with low capacity is associated with high support for sharia among the lowest and the highest social strata of the society. Conversely, a state with high capacity for public goods provision is associated with low support for sharia among the lowest and the highest social strata of the society. Using new cross-national survey data of Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries, we provide a relevant statistical test that strongly supports our theory. This research was funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research. “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-radical Muslim Discourse (Addition),” Mark R. Woodward (Religious Studies, ASU), PI, $497,540. N00014-09-1-0815. Contact Carolyn Forbes of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at ASU for information about other publications from this research.
ii) With Nathan Tarr, I am writing a paper which uses qualitative interview data in three West European countries, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to try to understand Muslims’ attitudes towards sharia law. The paper is in progress. This research was funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research, “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-radical Muslim Discourse (Addition),” Mark R. Woodward (Religious Studies, ASU), PI, $497,540. N00014-09-1-0815. Contact Carolyn Forbes of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at ASU for information about other publications from this research.