Projects at the Forschungskolleg
»Religious Dynamics in History and the Present«
From a discussion group to a Cluster of Excellence Initiative at Goethe University
The social role of religion in history and the present is being investigated at Goethe University from numerous different disciplinary perspectives. The research group »Religious Dynamics in History and the Present« was founded in 2019 at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in order to strengthen this multifaceted religion-related research through networking and joint research activities at the university. The group around Birgit Emich (early modern history), Roland Hardenberg (ethnology), Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (philosophy), Hartmut Leppin (ancient history), Ömer Özsoy (Islamic studies), Thomas M. Schmidt (philosophy of religion) and Christian Wiese (Jewish philosophy of religion) has come together in several workshops to exchange their theoretical concepts, methods, research objects and concrete activities.
The discussions have come to focus on the ambivalence of religions, which on the one hand make an essential contribution to the collective cohesion of communities and on the other have been and are a source of highly explosive conflicts in history and the present. With regard to the three monotheistic religions that are closely intertwined both historically and theologically, the question arises as to how the dynamics of their coexistence and confrontations are to be understood. This requires detailed interdisciplinary studies of different historical periods, geographical areas and religious contexts, the examination of religious scriptures, their translations and interpretations, and research into the causes of conflicts as well as the frameworks for interreligious understanding.
In the spring of 2021, the group, which now includes 16 researchers from eight disciplines, took part in Goethe University’s call for applications for Cluster of Excellence Initiatives with the research project »Dynamiken des Religiösen: Prozesse des Verstehens, Missverstehens und der Verständigung«. With this funding program, the university intends to prepare promising research initiatives for the nationwide Excellence Competition in 2024. The application of the »Religion Group« was approved in summer 2021 after internal and external review, and its research project will be funded by Goethe University from 2021–2024 with a total of 3.5 million euros.
Supported by this funding commitment, which will enable it to recruit additional staff, invite guest researchers and hold workshops, international conferences and lecture series, the Cluster Initiative will be able to continue the development of the content and structure of its research program and to expand its collaboration with other institutions in Germany and abroad over the next two years.
The spokespersons of the Initiative are Birgit Emich, professor of early modern history at Goethe University, and Christian Wiese, Martin Buber Professor for Jewish Philosophy of Religion at Goethe University and member of the board of directors at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften. Both scholars are nationally and internationally renowned in their fields, and have already acquired major third-party funding. Emich heads the DFG research group »Polycentricity and Plurality of Pre-Modern Christianities« (2021–2024 ), and Christian Wiese was the chair of the LOEWE research group »Religious Positioning. Modalities and Constellations in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Contexts« (2017–2021).
The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften is a collaborative partner of the Cluster Initiative and will continue to actively support the project, in particular by inviting guest researchers who will contribute their expertise to the project and by planning and holding academic conferences and public lectures in Bad Homburg. The director of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, co-initiator of the initial discussion group and member of the so-called »Steering Committee« of the Cluster Initiative, is very pleased that the initial discussions at the Forschungskolleg have »caught on« and have developed into a compelling research project with a long-term perspective because, he believes, the critical examination of the significance of religion in our society is more important than ever.
Dr. Silvia Richter (Si.Richter@em.uni-frankfurt.de)
»Dynamics of the Religious«
Cluster of Excellence Initiative at Goethe University
(FKH - 21.03.2022)
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