Research Interests

Jytte Klausen's work has focused on social cohesion and immigration politics in Western Europe and the United States. Her approach is comparative and interdisciplinary with a methodological emphasis on what can best be described as political anthropology. Over the last two decades, she has focused on researching Islamist extremism and terrorism in the West.

At Brandeis, Klausen has taught undergraduate and graduate courses or classes that have focused on immigration, law and human rights, and religion and secularism through the lens of conflicts over the integration of Islam and Muslims in the West.

Immigration, State-Church Relations, and Religious Accommodation

The 1555 Augsburg Treaty brought “religious peace,” Religionsfriede, to Europe by subjecting clerical authority to the control of political rulers. It also created an inflexible map of stable religious affiliations, the cuius regio, eius religio principle. It has held for centuries, and even survived the upheavals of the twentieth century. Migration is one of many consequences of global liberalism, and an attendant consequence has been the re-introduction of religious pluralism in Europe. States have not changed, but their populations have, and many citizens no longer belong to the official faiths of states. The crude sociological thesis that belief wanes as education and prosperity and scientific rationalism displaces magical thinking has little currency today. Secularization is more realistically seen as a result of distinct sociological, historical, and ideational processes. It has proceeded in disjointed movements of legal-constitutional reform and behavioral change. Sometimes secularization in one arena brings analogous changes in another, as in the case of the sexual de-regulation after 1968, but even in this case there was no clear causal relationship between changing attitudes and in laws. The history of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment—‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion’—is an example of religiosity driving the separation of Church and state.

Islamophobia, Global Communication, and Free Speech

Uncivil discourse may escalate into incitement to violence. How do we balance free speech with a proper concern for public safety? In what circumstances may threats or offensive statements or images be sufficient grounds for curtailing speech? Preventive free speech restrictions put us in the awkward position of having to anticipate what might offend the easily offended. But what should be the response of the federal government and the media—and U.S. corporations and institutions in the news or culture business—when credible threats are made? In 2009, Yale University Press published Klausen’s The Cartoons that Shook the World, a scholarly analysis of the international crisis caused by the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Shortly before the book’s publication, Yale insisted that reproductions of the cartoons along with all other images of Muhammad should be dropped, igniting a firestorm of controversy highlighting the threat to free speech and academic independence.