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Friday Forums

Is Nationalism Identity Politics for the Right? An Examination of Tribalism and Identity Politics in America

This Faith & Law Friday Forum will focus on tribalism and identity politics with Georgetown University Professor Paul Miller. Dr. Miller asserts that civilization is fixated on stories about the journey to discover our identity, and how the discovery of our identity is the key to unleashing our inner power and mastering our world. In this lecture, he will address this myth by sharing where it comes from, historically and spiritually. Next, he will tease out its political implications and show how it gives rise to both identity politics and to the current wave of nationalism sweeping much of the world. While demands for identity recognition are understandable, they raise serious social, political, and cultural problems without any corresponding solutions. Then, Dr. Miller will propose answers to the questions of identity, calling for a renewal of classical liberalism, federalism, and devolution as answers to identity politics, nationalism, and the centrifugal forces of tribalism that threaten to tear our polities apart. Finally, he will conclude with a note on the spiritual roots of this problem, suggesting where our need for identity and recognition come from, and what the answer might ultimately be.

Dr. Paul D. Miller is a Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He serves as co-chair of the Global Politics and Security concentration in the MSFS program. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

As a practitioner, Dr. Miller served as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff; worked as an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency; and served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.

His most recent book, American Power and Liberal Order: A Conservative Internationalist Grand Strategy, was published by Georgetown University Press in 2016. In his first book, Armed State Building (Cornell University Press, 2013), Miller examined the history and strategy of stability operations. Miller taught at The University of Texas at Austin and the National Defense University and worked at the RAND Corporation prior to his arrival at Georgetown.

Miller blogs on foreign affairs at Elephants in the Room. His writing has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Survival, Presidential Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Orbis, The American Interest, The National Interest, The World Affairs Journal, Small Wars and Insurgencies, and elsewhere. Miller holds a PhD in international relations and a BA in government from Georgetown University, and a master in public policy from Harvard University.

He is a contributing editor of the Texas National Security Review, a contributing editor of Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy, a co-editor of the Naval Institute Press’s Series on the Future of Global Security, a research fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a member of the advisory board for the Philos Project, and a member of the Texas Lyceum.