Ron Hassner

Research Expertise and Interest

international relations, international security, religion and conflict, Israel, military intelligence, torture, interrogation.

Research Description

Ron Hassner teaches international conflict and religion.  He is a recipient of the Berkeley Undergraduate Political Science Association’s “Distinguished Teaching Award”, the Berkeley Division of Social Sciences’ “Distinguished Teaching Award”, Berkeley’s campus-wide “Distinguished Teaching Award”, and the American Political Science Association’s “Outstanding Teaching in Political Science Award”.  He is a faculty director of the Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and he holds the Helen Diller Family Chair in Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

His research explores the role of ideas, practices and symbols in international security with particular attention to the relationship between religion and violence.  His published work focuses on territorial disputes, religion in the military, conflicts over holy places, the pervasive role of religion on the modern battlefield, and on the politics of interrogational torture.

Anatomy of Torture (Cornell University Press, 2022) draws on manuscripts from the archives of the Spanish Inquisition to explore the causes and effects of interrogational torture.  Religion on the Battlefield (Cornell University Press, 2016) examines the impact of religious ideas, symbols and practices on military decision making in 20th century interstate wars. Religion and International Relations (with Isaac Svensson, Sage, 2016) offers an edited  collection of significant scholarly texts organized into four volumes.  Religion in the Military Worldwide (Cambridge, 2013), is a collection of essays on religion in contemporary armed forces. War on Sacred Grounds (Cornell, 2009) analyzes the causes and characteristics of disputes over sacred places around the globe and the conditions under which these conflicts can be managed.  He has published on religion and conflict in the journals Security Studies, International Security, Terrorism and Political Violence, Politics and Religion, Civil Wars and others and he has contributed chapters on similar themes to numerous volumes.  He is the editor of the Cornell University Press book series "Religion and Conflict".

In the News

The Tortures of the Spanish Inquisition Hold Dark Lessons for Our Time

Professor Ron E. Hassner's Anatomy of Torture is a telling of how the Roman Catholic Church used physical and psychological torture systematically to crush communities of Jews, Muslims, Protestants and others seen as heretics. In probing the practices of the Spanish Inquisition, Hassner makes a devastating argument against America’s use of torture four centuries later. In distilling that story, though, he comes to an understanding that is deeply disquieting and likely to provoke both proponents of torture and human rights advocates.
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