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Podcast: Socialist Cultures and Politics of Secularism and Atheism

Our Senior Research Fellow Todd Weir recently presented his forthcoming book Red Secularism: Socialism and Secularist Culture in Germany, 1890-1933 in an interview on Steven V. Bittner's History Ex Silo podcast on the New Books Network. Together with Victoria Smolkin he discusses how socialist secularism and atheism were not concerned solely with destroying a tool of class oppression, as Marx had envisioned, but with creating a positive faith in science and materialism.

Red Secularism is the first substantive investigation into one of the key sources of radicalism in modern German, the subculture that arose at the intersection of secularism and socialism in the late nineteenth-century. It explores the organizations that promoted their humanistic-monistic worldview through popular science and asks how this worldview shaped the biographies of ambitious self-educated workers and early feminists. Todd H. Weir shows how generations of secularist intellectuals staked out leading positions in the Social Democratic Party, but often lost them due to their penchant for dissent. Moving between local and national developments, this book examines the crucial role of red secularism in the political struggles over religion that rocked Germany and fed into the National Socialist dictatorship of 1933.

Moreover, the NWO Social Sciences and Humanities Domain Board has awarded the 2022 Open Competition SSH - M funding round. This funding without any thematic conditions gives the opportunity to carry out research into the subject of their own choice. Among the researchers is also Todd Weir, he receives €400 000 for his project Culture Wars and Modern Worldviews: A Transnational Conceptual History. The project investigates how “worldview” developed into a key concept in academia, policy, and public debate in twenty-first century US, UK, the Netherlands and Latin America. Situating the concept’s formation in modern culture wars, beginning in nineteenth-century Germany, the project investigates how worldview has entered into social movements, led to new theories in the sciences and is now shaping the reform of religious education. 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.