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Todd Weir appointed professor History of Christianity and Modern Culture

14 mei 2024
Todd Weir
Todd Weir

The Rector of the University recently confirmed Todd Weir’s appointment as Full Professor in the Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society at the University of Groningen. Todd has held the Chair for the History of Christianity and Modern Culture since his arrival in Groningen in 2016. We sat down with him to ask him about his research.

Christianity and Modern Culture is a broad subject. What precisely do you plan to do to fill this chair?

When I gave my inaugural lecture back in 2019, I tried to find a single core question that motivated me and it was: “What might a joint history of Christianity and secularism look like?” I’ve been looking for answers in the interactions of secular and Christian forces over the past two centuries, interactions that today continue to impel developments in modern culture and of contemporary religion. My scholarly innovations have developed around four analytical concepts, each of which puts the religious and the secular in a common frame of analysis. These are confessionality, apologetics, worldview and religious heritage.

We saw that you gave a TEDx talk entitled “What’s in a Worldview?” So, what is in a worldview?

I think that’s a big question, so big that I recently started a four-year NWO-funded project entitled 'Modern Worldviews and Culture Wars - A Transnational Conceptual History' to investigate it. Essentially, I’m examining with two postdocs the work done by this key concept in academia, policy, and public debate in Germany, US, UK, the Netherlands and Latin America. By situating the concept’s formation in modern culture wars, beginning in nineteenth-century Germany, we are investigating how worldview has entered into social movements, led to new theories in the sciences and is now shaping the reform of religious education. Hopefully it will provide critical tools for a better understanding of the sometimes conflictual interactions of the religious and the secular in history and in the contemporary world.

You have been involved in the Centre for Religion and Heritage since coming to Groningen. How does that fit into your research plan?

As director of the Centre, I worked with colleagues Andrew Irving and Mathilde van Dijk to create a forum for scholarly reflection on the remarkable growth in concern with religious heritage in countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, characterized by secularization, openness to spirituality and growing religious diversity due to globalization.

In particular, I have been interested in two aspects of religious heritage, both of which are prominent in the volume that I co-edited with Lieke Wijnia, the Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Heritage in Contemporary Europe (Open access 2023). First, I’m interested in religious meaning-making through heritage under the sign of the postsecular. I call it postsecular, because when religion is reconstituted as cultural heritage, it is in a secularized form that is not fully secular. The second area of interest relates to minority communities and heritage. This has been a very fruitful area for working with communities. In 2023, we began our third Erasmus Plus project, this time leading a Dutch, Belgian and Spanish consortium that will undertake a three-year collaboration on minority heritage.

PhD supervision is also an important part of research work at the faculty. What does it mean to you?

I greatly enjoy working with PhD students and am currently involved in nine PhD trajectories, of which I serve as primary supervisor for five. I realize how tough the funding environment is for PHDs at present and have been able to help two candidates gain funding through double degree programs with Charles University Prague and the University of Muenster, respectively. I hope to be able to help future PhD candidates this way.

About Todd Weir

Todd Weir [Straubing, Germany 1965] studied history at the Humboldt University (Berlin) and obtained his PhD at Columbia University in New York in 2005. After graduating, he worked for nine years in Northern Ireland at Queen's University Belfast and came to Groningen in 2016.

Laatst gewijzigd:14 mei 2024 15:02

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