Dag Hammarskjöld's Religiosity and Norms Entrepreneurship: A Post-secular Perspective

Filippo Dionigi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In 1953, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly elected a low-key and relatively unknown personality as the second Secretary General of the UN. Dag Hammarskjöld, nonetheless, turned out to be one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative Secretary Generals that the UN has ever had. He invented peacekeeping, radically reformed the administrative structure of the UN, and promoted a crucial multi-lateral diplomatic role for the UN Secretariat. Behind this innovative approach to the politics of the UN, there was a personality with a deep and complex religious discernment that emerged occasionally in public speeches, as well as in private writing. This article interprets Hammarskjöld's norms entrepreneurship through the lens of post-secular theory and the concept of Habermasian institutional translation. It shows how-in contrast with merely secularist assumptions-Hammarskjöld's religiosity shaped and advanced international political processes consistently with the principles of the UN Charter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-186
Number of pages25
JournalPolitics and Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2015


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