Institut für Strafrecht und Kriminologie

Abteilung Prof. Mona

Maria Birnbaum is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Berne. She received her Ph.D in International Relations from the European University Institute (EUI) in 2015.

She works in the fields of

  • Global Politics
  • Religious Studies
  • Colonial History

Maria Birnbaum studies questions of diversity, knowledge and non-knowledge, power, religion, and the secular. Her work analyzes 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 transnational history and politics of Israel and Pakistan. 

She is also finalizing a book manuscript titled "Becoming Recognizable" analyzing arguments for the recognition of religion in global politics. Here she shows how attempts to conceptualize, institutionalize, 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. 

Her most recent publication ”Recognizing diversity: Establishing religious difference in Pakistan and Israel”analyzes 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.

In her new project, "The Politics of the Unknown: Epistemologies of Ignorance", Maria Birnbaum looks at histories and hierarchies of ignorance and studies cases where political and legal unintelligibility are conceived as forms of power rather than forms of suppression.

Maria Birnbaum has co-edited the series Beyond Critique published with The Immanent Frame and Religious Pluralism: A Resource Book. 

She was a visiting fellow at Northwestern University, USA, and Lund University, Sweden and held positions at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany; Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), Florence, Italy; Oslo University (UiO), Norway; and Berne 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), the Swedish Research Council, and the Norwegian Research Council. 

Selected Publications

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, 2020.

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), 2018.

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, 2017.

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

Exclusive Pluralism, in: Fitzgerald/Goldenberg/Stack (eds.): Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty, Leiden: Brill, 2015.

Religious Pluralism, edited with Olivier Roy et al., Florence: European University Institute, 2015. 

Introduction: Pluralism and Plurality (with Aurelia Bardon, Lois Lee and Kristina Stoeckl), in: Religious Pluralism: A Resource Book. Aurélia Bardon, Maria Birnbaum, Lois Lee and Kristina Stoeckl (eds). European University Institute, 2015.