Student Spotlight: Wyler Publishes Journal Paper


Dina Wyler (Pardee ’18), a graduate student specializing in religion and international affairs at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published a recent journal article on the 2009 ban in Switzerland prohibiting the construction of minarets on a nationwide basis (due to a popular referendum) and the impact the ban has had on the country’s international reputation. 

“I wrote this paper for a class on Religion and International Relations. We had no strict guidelines so I chose a topic that I was personally interested in. As a Swiss person, I always wondered how this policy decision would influence Switzerland in the future,” Wyler said. “After having attended a workshop with Prof. Jeremy Menchik about how to get published, I sent the paper to the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. The editing process was lengthy and sometimes frustrating, but seeing my paper published at the end pays off the extra work.”

Wyler’s paper, entitled “The Swiss Minaret Ban Referendum and Switzerland’s International Reputation: A Vote with an Impact,” was published in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs on December 9, 2017.

From the abstract of the article:

In 2009, Switzerland prohibited the constructions of minarets on a nationwide basis due to a popular referendum. Immediately, the status of Switzerland as an ambassador for diplomacy and neutrality was questioned by the international community. This paper discusses the short-term impact of the vote on Switzerland’s international reputation by analyzing Switzerland’s ranking in the National Brand Index (NBI) between 2005 and 2015. The analysis shows that the general international reputation of Switzerland as well as its people’s and government’s reputation experienced a decline after the vote. The Swiss, in particular, suffered a loss in reputation abroad, while the reputation of Switzerland’s government maintained a high ranking. An explanation for these differences is the way the Swiss Federal Council acted before and after the vote. The Council opposed the initiative from the very beginning and started a campaign to assure that the good relations with other countries, especially Muslim countries remain intact. These efforts paid off, as the analysis of the NBI shows. By actively reaching out to important parties such as the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Swiss government could maintain its position in the top three of the NBI ranking. This was possible due to Switzerland’s long-term strategy in “image-cultivation” abroad. Meanwhile, the Swiss people who voted for the ban with 57 yes-votes experienced a downward trend in their international reputation.

You can read the paper here.

“Seeing my paper published in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is amazing,” Wyler said. “To realize that the work I conduct here at Pardee is valued and recognized by a broader audience is extremely affirmative and proves that the research we produce here is relevant and important.”