Disputes over the Divine: Introducing the Religion and Armed Conflict (RELAC) Data, 1975 to 2015

J Conflict Resolut. 2018 May;62(5):1127-1148. doi: 10.1177/0022002717737057. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


This article introduces the Religion and Armed Conflict (RELAC) data, 1975 to 2015, which is a new data set suitable for analyzing the causes, dynamics, and resolution of religious conflicts. It contains information about key religious dimensions of conflicts: whether the issue at stake is religious, the actors' religious identity, and fine-grained data about the type and salience of religious claims. The article presents the major features of the data set and describes patterns and trends that shed new light on religious conflicts, for example, by demonstrating that conflicts over Islamist claims have become more prevalent. We also illustrate the utility of the data. For instance, we show that there is great variation in lethality across conflicts with different types of Islamist claims, thereby offering a more nuanced understanding of the deadliness of religious conflicts. RELAC should be a valuable resource for scholars, examining religious dimensions of intrastate armed conflicts.

Keywords: Islamist conflicts; civil wars; internal armed conflict; religion.