Research Colloquium 2011—2013
Outline of the topic
The emergence and disappearance of religious communities are a general characteristic of the history of religions. While this statement seems trivial at first glance, closer examination reveals that not much systematic research has been carried out into the very dynamics that underlie these processes of religious change. Research into so-called 'new religious movements' focuses on a selection of modern religious communities that often seems to be arbitrary or under-theorised; it is usually not linked with and contrasted to earlier periods. Another scholarly desideratum is the question why religious communities perish, and what this means for our understanding of religious and cultural dynamics.
The Faculty Research Colloquium will combine historical, socio-anthropological, and comparative approaches; it will use historical examples in order to reach a better understanding of the dynamics that underlie processes of religious change. The interdisciplinary structure of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies provides an excellent framework for this research.
Among the questions and topics that will be addressed are the following:
What are the driving forces that lead to the emergence or disappearance of religious communities?
When religious communities emerge out of older communities—or 'traditions'—what characterizes the 'new' religion as 'new'? What are the 'negotiations of identity' that are operative in this process?
The Annales School introduced the term longue durée into academic parlance. What distinguishes the endurance of elements of religious tradition from elements that are subject to rapid change?
From a sociological perspective, does the form of religious communities influence their development (new forms of religious Vergemeinschaftung [Max Weber] can lead to new forms of religious community or even 'religion')?
Can religions 'die' into new forms, such as philosophy, art, science, media, or popular culture?
These—and related—questions will be addressed against the background of the expertise that is represented in the Faculty. Distinguished international scholars will be invited to give lectures and to offer master classes for graduate students. A workshop in 2013 will conclude the Faculty Research Colloquium.
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