Book Launch: Deadly Clerics with Richard A. Nielsen

 

Tuesday, October 02, 2018 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lindner Family Commons, 1957 E Street,
Washington, D.C. 20052 
Deadly Clerics explains why some Muslim clerics adopt the ideology of militant jihadism while most do not. The book explores multiple pathways of cleric radicalization and shows that the interplay of academic, religious, and political institutions has influenced the rise of modern jihadism through a mechanism of blocked ambition. As long as clerics' academic ambitions remain attainable, they are unlikely to espouse violent jihad. Clerics who are forced out of academia are more likely to turn to jihad for two reasons: jihadist ideas are attractive to those who see the system as turning against them, and preaching a jihad ideology can help these outsider clerics attract supporters and funds. The book draws on evidence from various sources, including large-scale statistical analysis of texts and network data obtained from the Internet, case studies of clerics' lives, and ethnographic participant observations at sites in Cairo, Egypt.
Richard Nielsen is an Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT. Nielsen writes on international law, the political economy of human rights, political violence, and political methodology. Some of this work is published or forthcoming in The American Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Political Analysis, and Sociological Methods and Research. In 2017-2019 he is an Andrew Carnegie fellow, and his work has previously been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.