Current projects at the Institute
Research group »Religious Dynamics in History and the Present«

»Religion« is the subject not only of theology, but also of other disciplines, especially history, cultural studies, social sciences and philosophy. For this reason, a group of scholars from Goethe University came together at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in 2019 to exchange views on their respective religion-related research. They focussed on the question of »Religious Dynamics in History and the Present« with the guiding idea being that research on the topic would benefit from the cross-disciplinary perspectives of the participating researchers. The founding members of the newly established research group include Birgit Emich (early modern history), Roland Hardenberg (anthropology), Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (philosophy), Hartmut Leppin (ancient history), Ömer Özsoy (Islamic studies), Thomas M. Schmidt (philosophy of religion), Dorothea Weltecke (medieval history) and Christian Wiese (Jewish thought and philosophy).

With the aim of creating a platform to network religion-related research at the university, the group issued a first newsletter containing information about planned academic and public events at Goethe University as well as about the visits of scholars from Germany and abroad who are working on religious topics at the university. A second newsletter about the activities of the upcoming summer semester 2021 is in the planning.

Several smaller meetings and a workshop were held in 2020 to explore common interests and formulate converging research goals. At this (virtual) workshop in November, short presentations were given on four research perspectives. Roland Hardenberg spoke on »Religious Dynamics in the Use of Religious Resources (Institutions, Speeches, and Things)« within the framework of his current research project »Religious Resources in South and Central Asia«. Hartmut Leppin, head of the Leibniz project »Polyphony of Late Antique Christianity« presented the analytical cornerstones of his research in a talk entitled »Religious Dynamics and Ancient Christianity«. Thomas Schmidt took a philosophical look at the question of the meaning of religion - of religious experience and communication - in political-societal contexts. And Christian Wiese explained the concept of religious neighborhoods, which is central to his work.

Very much in the spirit of bringing together research on related topics, other Goethe University scholars who have been working on the »dynamics of the religious« for some time participated in the workshop. This line of discussion will be continued in a second workshop in January 2021.

Other activities of the »Religious Dynamics« research group include the organization of public events and the sponsorship of invitations to visiting scholars. In 2020, the research group was a collaborative partner of the Martin Buber Lecture, which was held in November by the religious and Judaic studies scholar Susannah Heschel. The group also supported the visit of Ingolf Dalferth, scholar of the philosophy of religion, who gave a lecture in hybrid format at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in November.

Contacts for the research group »Religious Dynamics in History and the Present« are Christian Wiese, holder of the Martin Buber Professorship for Jewish Philosophy of Religion and member of the board of directors of the Forschungskolleg Human Sciences, and Birgit Emich, professor of early modern history and co-spokesperson of the DFG research training group »Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities«. The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften supports the work of the research group »Religious Dynamics in History and the Present« (contact: Beate Sutterlüty,

(FKH - 22.12.2020)