Dr Mohd Zuhdi Marsuki
Centre for Civilisational Politics


The term ‘Civilisational Politics’ had attracted scholars to discuss it only after the publication of Huntington’s work, “The Clash of Civilisations”. However, in the world history, the relationship between civilisation and politics has been developed since the first civilisation established by the mankind. Probably, this relationship disappeared in the modern academia with the downsizing of political authority from a large empire to a small nation state after the French Revolution.

In responding to Fukuyama’s thesis, Huntington proposed that in the history of human conflict, the conflicts were caused by the clash of civilisations, not by the difference of political ideologies. Actually, Huntington suggested the power struggle should be viewed from wider perspective, not among states as viewed by most of current political scientists but among civilisations. One of the aftermaths of this debate, the relationship between civilisation and politics ‘re-birth’ in the world academia.

Civilisational Politics as A New Subject

Although, the interest to study Civilisational Politics has been growing over the last two decades, the study only focusing on the international relationships between one nation to another. One of the earliest scholars who wrote a book on this topic was Katzenstein in 2012, entitled “Civilizational Politics in World Affairs Trilogy”. The book examines the cultural dimension of international politics with a special highlight to the rise of China and the complex responses of the West to it.

Another interesting writing on this topic is an article written by Hansen entitled “Past as Preface: Civilizational Politics and the ‘Third’ Balkan War”. The article was published in the Journal of Peace Research in May, 2000. In the article, Hansen discusses one of Huntington’s claims that the Bosnian Civil War took place between three different civilisations, and Islamic Civilisation was one of them. Again, the scope of Civilisational Politics is narrowed into the political relationship between one party to another.

In 2014, Bettiza wrote an article on “Civilizational Analysis in International Relations: Mapping the Field and Advancing a ‘Civilizational Politics’ Line of Research”, published in International Studies Review. The article suggests that the subject Civilisational Politics offers a premise for scholars to explore how existing plural civilisations have influenced the construction of world politics by social and political actors. Betizza wrote some other articles in this subject by focussing on the influence of civilisations (especially religious factors) on international politics.

Referring to some publications on this topic including the above writings, Civilisational Politics is now becoming a new interesting subject in Politics. However, in my opinions the scope of this subject should be widened into the discourse of civilisational values that can influence political character of a social or political actor, apart from the macro perspective on international politics or political relationship. Therefore the relationship between civilisation and politics can be revived in the both perspectives, micro and macro politics.

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