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Articles

Here you will find an overview of the journal articles and articles published in edited volumes by the research group and its members.

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2021

Letters to Sir Syed: Lajpat Rai’s response to the Muslim refusal of minorityhood

Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav

Letters to Sir Syed: Lajpat Rai’s response to the Muslim refusal of minorityhood

This article explores the thought of Syed Ahmed Khan, India’s most prominent nineteenth-century Muslim politician-thinker, and argues that Khan’s resistance to the Indian nationalist-democratic frame represented an early attempt by a Muslim aristocrat to resist the transformation of India’s Muslims into a new kind of vulnerable minority. It further examines the public refutation of Khan’s arguments by Lajpat Rai, a young Congressman later to become one of colonial India’s most well-known Hindu politicians, and illustrates that Rai’s easy and eager embrace of the Indian nationalist-democratic frame entailed an affirmation of Muslim minoritisation. The article argues that their different understandings and evaluations of modern representative democracy and nationalism, and their different emotive responses, dread or optimism, to these new phenomena was not a natural extension of their religious identity. What mattered more were their distinct socio-economic identities and belongingness to an all-India minority or majority.


Bhargav, Vanya Vaidehi. “Letters to Sir Syed: Lajpat Rai’s response to the Muslim refusal of minorityhood.” Global Intellectual History, 33 no. 2 (2021): 1–20.

2020

Religion - Aufklärung – Säkularisierung: Tibet und die mongolischen Regionen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert

Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz

Religion - Aufklärung – Säkularisierung: Tibet und die mongolischen Regionen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert

"Die ,Knochenzähler'-Episode belegt, dass in Tibet im 17. Jahrhunderr aus empirischer Beobachtung gewonnenes Wissen zunehmend in Widerspruch zu religiös fundiertem Wissen geriet. Die Hinwendung zu Methoden empirischer Überprüfbarkeit von Wissen und die Infragescellung religiöser Autoritäten sind Merkmale, die für Europa gemeinhin mit der Aufklärung in Verbindung gebracht werden. Heute ist wohl unbestritten, dass die Aufklärung eine in sich heterogene, von Ambivalenzen und oft widersprüchlichen Konzepten und Ansichten geprägte Bewegung war, und auch die Annahme, dass sie ein singulars und autonomes Produkt Europas und nirgendwo anders als in Europa zu finden ist, wird zunehmend in Frage gestellt.  Historikerinnen und Historiker haben begonnen, zum einen die Formierung der europäischen Aufklärung in der Interaktion mit außereuropäischen Wissenskulturen zu untersuchen, zum anderen nach parallelen und analogen Entwicklungen außerhalb Europas zu suchen. Von Interesse sind hier autochthone Prozesse der Rationalisierung, die nicht von europäischen Entwicklungen abhängig waren, aber zu ähnlichen Resultaten geführt haben. An dieser Stelle möchte ich ansetzen und untersuchen, ob in den tibetischen und mongolischen Gesellschaften des 18. bis frühen 20. Jahrhunderts Ansprüche entstanden, tradiertes Wissen durch direkte Beobachtung oder rationale Überlegungen zu überprüfen und gegebenenfalls zu korrigieren, und ob solche neuen Erkenntnisse Konsequenzen für den traditionellen Wissenskanon in den tibetischen und mongolischen Ausbildungssystemen nach sich zogen. Diesen Fragen werde ich anhand von zwei Fallbeispielen nachgehen. Ich verstehe das Säkulare hier als historisch und kulturell kontingente Kategorie. Darüber hinaus gehe ich davon aus, dass sich das Säkulare als taxonomische Ordnung relational zu Religion beziehungsweise dem Religiösen verhält, beide Termini also keine stabilen Bedeutungen unabhängig voneinander besitzen."


Kollmar-Paulenz, Karénina. “Religion - Aufklärung - Säkularisierung: Tibet und die Mongolischen Religionen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert.” In Bildung als Aufklärung: Historisch-Anthropologische Perspektiven. Edited by Anne Conrad, Alexander Maier and Christoph Nebgen, 577–89. Wien: Böhlau, 2020.

2020

Call of the mountain: modern enchantment on and off the screen

Magnus Echtler

Call of the mountain: modern enchantment on and off the screen

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mountaineers faced mortal danger in vertical mountain walls, and imagined mountains as sentient, terrifyingly attractive foes. This agency formed the basis of mountain religion, in which enchanting mountains recalled notions of the sacred or holy, and mountaineering presented itself as a rite-of-passage outside disenchanted modernity. Such themes are on display in early and contemporary cinematic accounts of mountaineering. Death and fear were central elements in early mountain movies like Der heilige Berg (1926) or Der Berg ruft (1938), who used visual representations of verticality to incite bodily reactions, thus enabling audiences to experience their own commodified passage in the cinema. Recent climbing documentaries like Die drei Zinnen (2012) or Free Solo (2018) employ the same cinematographic techniques. As evidenced in these films, the cultural production of enchanting mountains relies on the agency of both mountains and cameras.


Echtler, Magnus. “Call of the Mountain: Modern Enchantment on and Off the Screen.” Culture and Religion 21, no. 1 (2020): 58–71.

2020

Power in the house: performing succession in the Nazareth Baptist Church (South Africa)

Magnus Echtler

Power in the house: performing succession in the Nazareth Baptist Church (South Africa)

In this article, I analyze the recent succession conflict in the Nazareth Baptist Church (NBC). With hereditary charisma at stake, multiple actors attempted to redress the crisis stage in the social drama of succession through legal and political/ritual processes leading to contradictory outcomes. Focusing on the church’s assemblies, I argue that the performance of a chief, who framed succession in terms of the house politics of polygamous homesteads, succeeded in gathering the majority of church members behind one contestant. With regard to the routinization of charisma, traditionalization beat legalization.



Echtler, Magnus. “Power in the House: Performing Succession in the Nazareth Baptist Church (South Africa).” Paideuma 66 (2020): 49–74.


2020

Physical and Epistemic Violence against Alevis in Modern Turkey

Markus Dressler

Physical and Epistemic Violence against Alevis in Modern Turkey

Turkey has gone through significant transformations over the last century—from the Ottoman Empire and Young Turk era to the Republic of today—but throughout it has demonstrated troubling continuities in its encouragement and deployment of mass violence. In particular, the construction of a Muslim-Turkish identity has been achieved in part by designating “internal enemies” at whom public hatred can be directed. This volume provides a wide range of case studies and historiographical reflections on the alarming recurrence of such violence in Turkish history, as atrocities against varied ethnic-religious groups from the nineteenth century to today have propelled the nation’s very sense of itself.





Markus Dressler, „Physical and Epistemic Violence against Alevis in Modern Turkey“. R. Kevorkian, St. Astourian (eds.), Collective and State Violence in Turkey. The Construction of a National Identity from Empire to Nation-State. New York: Berghahn, 2020, 347-71.

2020

The M-Plan Mandela’s Struggle to Reorient the African National Congress

Paul S. Landau

The M-Plan Mandela’s Struggle to Reorient the African National Congress

This is an account of Mandela’s strategy and actions in 1961 and 1962, organising and reorienting the African National Congress (ANC). Based largely on oral memoirs and interviews, including state witness depositions, the article argues that Mandela's plans were thwarted. After the government declared the ANC illegal, Mandela helped to supervise the programme called the M-Plan, in order to lay the groundwork for mass participation in an anticipated revolutionary transformation, but the effort did not succeed. Members resisted the M-Plan reorganisation on the ground; the state assaulted the ANC and its leaders, and ripped apart communities; and the leadership denied Mandela full access to the ANC in his preparations for the violence he saw ahead of them. He was allowed to form a separate group, relying on the South African Communist Party and port city trade unionists for its organising. That smaller network, Umkhonto, was grafted into the M-Plan hierarchy a year later, problematically and partially, too little, too late.



Landau, Paul S. “The M-Plan: Mandela’s Struggle to Reorient the African National Congress.” In Reassessing Mandela: Southern African Studies. Edited by Colin Bundy and William Beinart, 1073–91. [s.l.]: Routledge, 2020.

2020

Afterword: Apologetics as a Seismograph of Social Change and an Arena of Secular-Religious Conflicts

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr

Afterword: Apologetics as a Seismograph of Social Change and an Arena of Secular-Religious Conflicts

This is a book of comparative history. Its chapters approach a variety of apologetics across the ‘short 20th century’ through case studies taken from different world areas, under different conditions, and giving expression to various forms of pressure and tension. It captures religious– secular contestations involving different religious denominations and their internal divisions, often differing in their stance towards politics and the changing role of religion in society.

The book is not only relevant for historians, but also speaks to a sociology of religion that is interested in social conflicts and social change. It is especially appealing to sociologists of religion, like myself, who focus on the relations between the religious and the secular, including the boundary demarcations between the two. Over the past several years, I have co-led a research group at the University of Leipzig that deals with these issues under the heading ‘Multiple Secularities: Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities’. While discussing some systematic perspectives of the present volume, I will relate the findings on apologetics to some of the basic assumptions of the Multiple Secularities approach and explore the common ground between the two.


Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika. “Afterword: Apologetics as a Seismograph of Social Change and an Arena of Secular-Religious Conflicts.” In Defending the Faith: Global Histories of Apologetics and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Hugh McLeod and Todd Weir, 292–98. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

2020

Theory of Religion and Historical Research. A Critical Realist Perspective on the Study of Religion as an Empirical Discipline

Hubert Seiwert

Theory of Religion and Historical Research. A Critical Realist Perspective on the Study of Religion as an Empirical Discipline

The article discusses the connection between theory formation and historical research in the study of religion. It presupposes that the study of religion is conceived of as an empirical discipline. The empirical basis of theories is provided primarily by historical research, including research in the very recent past, that is, the present time. Research in the history of religions, therefore, is an indispensable part of the study of religion. However, in recent discussions on the methods, aims, and theoretical presuppositions of the discipline, research in the history of religions largely is ignored. To shed some light on this blind spot, the article builds on the philosophy of science of Critical Realism. While the first part deals with the role of historical research in theoretical discourses of the discipline, the second part explains fundamental ontological and epistemological positions of Critical Realism and their implications for empirical research. On this basis, some methodological problems of theory formation in the study of religion are discussed in the third part. In particular, it is argued that it is impossible to validate empirically theories of religion that aim to explain what religion is. The concluding part sketches ways of theory formation in the study of religion that does not take religion as the explanandum but as the theoretical perspective that guides research.


Seiwert, Hubert. “Theory of Religion and Historical Research. A Critical Realist Perspective on the Study of Religion as an Empirical Discipline.” Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 28, no. 2 (2020): 207–36.

2020

The Scope and Restriction of the Religion Freedom as Part of Non-Derogable Rights Under Indonesian Legal System

Erna Ratnaningsih, Sudarsono, Muchamad A. Safa’at, and Moh. Fadli

Certain rights in Indonesia are non-derogable and are protected by the constitution. An example is the right to religious freedom with its scope included in the international forum. Meanwhile, externum forum is the right to practice religion or belief, and this is limited by law. The scope and restrictions of human rights in Indonesia are not all in accordance with the provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which have been ratified by Indonesia. This is a normative and qualitative research with data collected through the conceptual and legal approach. The results showed that the constitution and laws in Indonesia use the religious rights phrase which does not include protection against atheism and people that do not adhere to any religion or belief. The scope of the internum forum is limited with an expansion of human rights restriction by adding religious values and security. It does not include general welfare as contained in the International Human Rights Instrument.


Ratnaningsih, Erna, Sudarsono, Muchamad A. Safa’at, and Moh. Fadli. “The Scope and Restriction of the Religion Freedom as Part of Non-Derogable Rights Under Indonesian Legal System.” Journal of Critical Reviews 7 (2020): 2990–97.

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2020

Macrohistory of the legal transformations in Iran from the reception of Turk-Mongolian law to the inception of legal modernization

Saïd Arjomand

Macrohistory of the legal transformations in Iran from the reception of Turk-Mongolian law to the inception of legal modernization

Two major transformations in the constitutional history of the Islamic Middle East are examined with reference to Iran. Two snapshots sketch the consequences of the reception, respectively, of the Turko-Mongolian since the first half of the fifteenth century, marked the reconciliation of Turko-Mongolian and Islamic law, and of the legal framework of the international system of modern nation-states in the nineteenth century. The turning point from the Turko-Mongolian to the modern legal transplantation is the collapse of the last Turko-Mongolian empire in world history – that of Nāder Shah (1736-1747). It was followed by half a century of internecine tribal warfare from which Iran emerged as a state forced to adopt Western law in the century-long course of its defensive modernization against imperialist pressure that resulted in the inception of legal modernization.


Arjomand, Saïd. “Macrohistory of the Legal Transformations in Iran from the Reception of Turk-Mongolian Law to the Inception of Legal Modernization.” Oñati Socio-Legal Series 10, no. 5 (2020): 1001–15.

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2020

Introduction: Historical and Comparative Macrosociology of Middle Eastern Legal Systems

Nathan J. Brown and Saïd A. Arjomand.

Introduction: Historical and Comparative Macrosociology of Middle Eastern Legal Systems

The understanding of law in the Middle East requires not simply different disciplinary perspectives but bringing disciplines into dialogue with each other. It also requires analysis that crosses historical periods in order to understand legal systems as ones that develop over time based on longstanding traditions and earlier transformations, not simply European intrusion. We present a series of analyses by scholar who, while anchored in their own discipline, historical focus, and geographical specialization consciously work to address a broad social scientific audience.


Brown, Nathan J., and Saïd A. Arjomand. “Introduction: Historical and Comparative Macrosociology of Middle Eastern Legal Systems.” Oñati Socio-Legal Series 10, no. 5 (2020): 955–59.

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2020

Translating indigeneities: educative encounters in Talamanca, Tromsø, and elsewhere

Bjørn Ola Tafjord

Translating indigeneities: educative encounters in Talamanca, Tromsø, and elsewhere

“To me, this is not religion. It is more like a juridical system”. Heidi Mayorga Escalante took me aside and lowered her voice. Heidi is the Bribri lawyer and activist who in January 2018 guided our group of researchers at the National Museum of Costa Rica. We had just entered a room where ‘INDIGENOUS RELIGION’ was written with bold and large letters on one wall, and ‘THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’ with equally bold and large letters on the opposite wall. Glass boxes with select objects, accompanied by snippets of text, representing indigenous religion and Catholicism respectively, stood on each side of the room, creating a neat symmetry, gesturing a comparison. Heidi was referring to the assemblage of objects and texts that articulated, exhibited, and explained an indigenous religion.


“TRANSLATING INDIGENEITIES: Educative Encounters in Talamanca, Tromsø, and Elsewhere.” In Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds, Global Networks. Edited by Siv-Ellen Kraft, Bjørn Ola Tafjord, Arkotong Longkumer, Gregory D. Alles and Greg Johnson, 21–58. Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY: Routledge, 2020.

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2020

From Theoretical Dependence to the Discovery of Its Specificity

Roberto Blancarte

Latin American sociology of religion is a relatively young discipline, although institutionally speaking, it has not lagged as far behind European sociology as we usually think. There is, in fact, an early link between Continental Europe and Latin America in the development of institutions dedicated to the study of religions. They have witnessed an incredible expansion, particularly over the past three decades. The author offers a general panorama of the trajectory of the subdiscipline and the development of a robust academic field. The reasons for this intellectual explosion go from the development of a scientific institutional framework for social sciences in emerging economies to the changing structure of religions and the social awareness of a historical plurality of beliefs in Latin America. 

2020

La sécularité mexicaine Entre le retour de la religion dans l'espace public et la consolidation d'une République laïque

Roberto Blancarte

La sécularité mexicaine Entre le retour de la religion dans l'espace public et la consolidation d'une République laïque

At the end of the twentieth century, structural and constitutional reforms took place in Mexico and involved a change in the public regulation of the religious. Note the legal recognition of churches and religious groups, as "religious associations", in the context of increasing plurality. These changes favored a political alternation and a more diversified role for the Churches. The rise of populism has also had an impact on Mexican secularism.



Blancarte, Roberto. “La Sécularité Mexicaine Entre Le Retour De La Religion Dans L'espace Public Et La Consolidation D'une République Laïque.” In La Sécularisation En Question - Religions Et Laïcités Au Prisme Des Sciences Sociales. Edited by Philippe Portier and Jean-Paul Willaime, 161–75. Paris: Classiques Garnier Numérique, 2019.

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