Maria Birnbaum

Maria Birnbaum is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bern. She received her Ph.D in International Relations from the European University Institute (EUI) and works in the fields of Global Politics, Religious Studies, and Colonial History. Her work studies the relationship between diversity and order with a particular focus on religion and global politics.

Maria Birnbaum is currently part of the project "Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies" at the University of Bern where she is working on a series of articles exploring

1) The conditions and limits of liberal diversity governance ("The costs of recognition"), and

2) The entangled history and politics of Israel and Pakistan.

She is also finalising a book manuscript titled "Becoming Recognizable" analysing arguments for the recognition of religion in global politics. Here she shows how attempts to conceptualise, institutionalise, and manage social and religious difference in South Asia and the Middle East shaped the state-making processes of Pakistan and Israel and the conflicts following them. She argues that recognition along the lines of religion – in terms of border making, representation, or demography – came with considerable costs.

In her new project, ”Histories and Hierarchies of Ignorance", Maria Birnbaum studies cases where political and legal unintelligibility are conceived as forms of power rather than forms of suppression.

Her most recent publication ”Recognizing diversity: Establishing religious difference in Pakistan and Israel” analyses the conditions of epistemological change in the international politics of religion. It was published in the volume Culture and Order in World Politics with Cambridge University Press in 2020, the winner of the International Studies Association’s book award for the best-edited book in International Theory. Maria Birnbaum has co-edited the series Beyond Critique published with The Immanent Frame and a volume on Religious Pluralism.

In 2021-2022 she will be a visiting fellow at CRASSH and POLIS at Cambridge University and has previously held visiting fellowships at Northwestern University, USA, and Lund University, Sweden and positions at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany; Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), Florence, Italy; Oslo University (UiO), Norway; and Bern University, Switzerland. Her main archival work was conducted in New Delhi, India, Geneva, Switzerland, London, and Oxford, UK. Maria Birnbaum’s research has been funded by the European Research Council (ERC), as well as the Swedish, Norwegian, and Swiss Research Council.

[2021] Entangled Empire: Religion and the Transnational History of Pakistan and Israel, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 50(2).

[2020] Recognizing Diversity: Establishing Religious Difference in Pakistan and Israel, in: Reus-Smit, Christian/Phillips, Andrew (eds.): Culture and Order in World Politics, Cambridge University Press

[2018] Zum Verständnis von Religion. Ein freundlich-kritischer Einwand gegen den Religionsbegriff in der postsäkularen Gesellschaft von Jürgen Habermas, in: Barbato, Mariano/Marfeld, Sarah (eds.): Postsäkulare Weltpolitik, Passau Universität (Open Access)

[2017] Emerging International Subjects: The Royal Peel Commission, Palestine Partition and the Establishment of Religious Difference at the United Nations, in: Stensvold, Anne (ed.) Religion, State and the United Nations, London: Routledge, ISBN 9780367874469

[2017] Arbiters of Orthodoxy: Contentious Politics and Epistemological Change, in: Journal of Religion, Politics, and Ideology, 18(1): 109-112,

[2016] Religion: Westphalia, the Colony and the Secular, in: Berenskoetter, Felix (ed.): Concepts in World Politics, London: Sage, ISBN: 9781446294284

[2015] Exclusive Pluralism, in: Fitzgerald/Goldenberg/Stack (eds.): Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty, Leiden: Brill, ISBN: 978-90-04-29059-4

[2015] with Bardon, Aurélia; Lee, Lois; Roy Olivier, and Stoeckl, Kristina (eds.): Religious Pluralism, Florence: European University Institute, Ppen Access)

[2015] with Bardon, Aurelia, et al.: Introduction: Pluralism and Plurality, in: Bardon, Aurélia; Birnbaum, Maria; Lee, Lois; Roy Olivier, and Stoeckl, Kristina, (eds): Religious Pluralism, European University Institute: 1-9.