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Aims & Conception

Growing Interest in Religion

As a consequence of global developments since the late 1970s, the significance of religion and its potential for creating or reducing conflicts have become the subject of increased medial, political and legal attention. Academic interest in religions too has grown, especially convening contacts between different religions and between members of the same faith but varying denominations. There is a long tradition of studying specific interactions, in particular among the so-called Abrahamic religions. This perspective comes with certain assumptions about the significance of common, yet contested beliefs, scriptures, and historiography, both for internal cohesion and for the exclusion of others. But to what extent do insights into interactions between Jews, Christians and Muslims betray general patterns of religious interactions which are also true in other regions of the globe? How do interactions between Christians and Muslims compare to encounters between Christians and Confucians, or between Buddhists and Hindus?

Transdiciplinary Research on Religious Contacts

Recent transdisciplinary research collaboratively conducted by leading experts on religious contacts at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg (KHK) Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe has developed a more global and comparative perspective. In the context of this scholarship, particular attention is being paid to under-researched inter-religious contacts, and to intra-religious contacts that challenge our understanding of religions as coherent structures united by fixed doctrine.

The comparative approach employed at the KHK combines material and systematic studies as well as historical and contemporary research on religions. The research especially focuses on relational aspects as constituents of religious formation. In such a framework, networks of cultural and religious traditions are interpreted as protracted processes of orientation and religious exchange.

Summer School designed for Advanced Students

In July 2013, a first summer school on Eurasian Religions in Contact (ERiC) was held at the Ruhr-Universität of Bochum with the aim of translating the research conducted by senior scholars into knowledge which benefits junior researchers. The ERiC Summer School offers advanced students of graduate standing working on related topics the opportunity to explore important theoretical and methodological questions for studying these contacts:

  • How do we theorize religion?
  • How can we assess the significance of religious identity when members of different communities meet? 
  • What defines a contact between individuals, communities, traditions, as a contact of religions? 
  • What are the effects of contact for the formation, development and global expansion of the world’s major religious traditions?

The aims of ERiC Summer School are twofold:

  1. Provide and assess exemplary case studies of intra- and interreligious encounters in Eurasia (though the African continent may also be considered) without limitations as to specific disciplines, timelines, and geographical frame;
  2. Discuss current theoretical frameworks and critical approaches to the study of religious encounters from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Alongside research on the ground, young researchers will have the opportunity to present their own research and receive constructive feedback from their peers and together with internationally renowned scholars.