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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

Islamic Politics of Imagination: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood

Dietrich Jung and Ahmed Abou El Zalaf

Islamic Politics of Imagination: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood

Inspired by Chiara Bottici’s conceptual triad of imagination, imaginary, and the imaginal, the chapter analyses the ideological framework of the Muslim Brotherhood as an example of Islamic politics. More precisely, it looks at the way in which its founder Hasan al-Banna (1906-1948) constructed the imaginal politics of an Islamic system. The chapter presents Hasan al-Banna as both an imagining actor and an individual subjected to the contextual power of the social imaginaries of his times.


Jung, Dietrich, and Ahmed Abou El Zalaf. "Islamic Politics of Imagination: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood." In Debating Imaginal Politics: Dialgues with Chiara Bottici, edited by Suzi Adams, and Jeremy C.A. Smith, 121-142. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

2021

Die Relevanz der Säkularisierungstheorie im globalen Zeitalter

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr and Florian Zemmin

Die Relevanz der Säkularisierungstheorie im globalen Zeitalter

Man könnte meinen, der von Christiane Frey, Uwe Hebekus und David Martyn vorgelegte Quellenband zu „Säkularisierung“ käme so verspätet wie die Zeitungen von gestern. Theorien der Säkularisierung, wie allgemeiner des Säkularen, sehen sich gegenwärtig heftiger Kritik ausgesetzt, die – anders als frühere Einwände – ihre analytische Leistungsfähigkeit fundamental in Frage stellen. Die Kritik kommt dabei heute vor allem von außerhalb der Soziologie und der Geschichtswissenschaft: aus der Anthropologie, den Postcolonial Studies und – teils mit ihnen verbunden – diversen Area Studies. Auch wenn sie manche besonders „hartleibigen“ Bereiche der Soziologie bisher wenig zu tangieren scheint, hat sie doch zu – teils reflektiert, teils willfährig erscheinenden – Revisionen und Anpassungen geführt, die es sinnvoll machen, sowohl Theorien der Säkularisierung als auch deren Kritik auf den Prüfstand zu stellen. Dafür braucht es theoriegeschichtliche Quellen. Einen wichtigen Teil dieser Quellen präsentiert, bis zu Augustinus zurückreichend, der vorgelegte Band. Und er präsentiert damit gleichzeitig eine Ideengeschichte der Säkularisierung.


Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika, and Florian Zemmin. “Die Relevanz Der Säkularisierungstheorie Im Globalen Zeitalter: Frey, Christiane/Hebekus, Uwe/Martyn, David (Hrsg.), Säkularisierung. Grundlagentexte zur Theoriegeschichte, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp Verlag 2020.” Soziologische Revue 44, no. 4 (2021): 506–17.


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2021

From Military Hero to Martyr: Crafting Singularity and the Formation of Muslim Collective Subjectivity in an Iranian Statist Ritual

Sana Chavoshian

From Military Hero to Martyr: Crafting Singularity and the Formation of Muslim Collective Subjectivity in an Iranian Statist Ritual

The staging of the funeral procession of Major General Qasem Soleimani (d. 3 January 2020) strengthened the Iranian state’s legitimation amidst the crisis related to intensified US sanctions. Images of his funeral parade across the country with its dense mourning crowd were circulated widely and commented on in both Iran’s official media and the international media. In response to these images, media commentaries engaged obsessively and exclusively with the biographical reviews that emphasised his heroic individuality and charismatic figure. This article engages critically with these reactions, while asking instead what his funeral tells us about the unfolding of the statist cult in Iran. I analyse two ethnographic scenes, one showing the entanglement of the official discourse of martyrdom with the statist culture, and the other, how the atmosphere of grief and
veneration during the martyrs’ funeral processions unsettle the dichotomies between compliance and resistance, orchestrated and emergent affects. These observations open a new vista on the mutual processes of singularity and the collective subjectivation that goes beyond one-sided causal explanations of heroic individuality on the one hand and blatantly dramatised expressions of the state’s religious policies on the other.


Chavoshian, Sana. “From Military Hero to Martyr: Crafting Singularity and the Formation of Muslim Collective Subjectivity in an Iranian Statist Ritual.” Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques 75, no. 3 (2021): 859–79.

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2021

On the Renovation of Religious Discourse: An Analysis of Concepts of Internal and External Disciplines

Housamedden Darwish

On the Renovation of Religious Discourse: An Analysis of Concepts of Internal and External Disciplines

This article aims to clarify the meaning of “renovation of religious discourse”, specifically by defining the disciplines of this renovation and their importance in determining its meaning. The disciplines play a pivotal role in determining the nature, meaning, and possibilities of renovating religious discourse. To demonstrate this thesis, the article will first make some conceptual distinctions between ‘discourse of religion’ and ‘religious discourse’, between ‘religion’ and ‘religiosity’, between ‘renovation in religious discourse’ and ‘renovation of religious discourse’. Secondly, it will make a distinction between internal and external disciplines. Internal disciplines lie within the religious text itself and in the hermeneutic circle between understanding parts of the text and understanding it as a whole, between understanding and pre-understanding, between the inside and the outside. In doing so, the paper focuses mainly on the role of the ruling political and economic powers and authorities. The paper concludes that renovating religious discourse is a political and institutional issue rather than a purely religious one related to individuals and that it is conditional on the state and its political system, the extent of its actual adoption of the concepts of ‘the state of citizenship and law’, democracy, and the extent to which it protects freedoms, differences, and pluralism.


Darwish, Housamedden. “On the Renovation of Religious Discourse: An Analysis of Concepts of Internal and External Disciplines.” Teosofi: Jurnal Tasawuf dan Pemikiran Islam 11, no. 2 (2021): 240–69.

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2021

The Modern Prophet: Rashīd Riḍā’s Construction of Muḥammad as Religious and Social Reformer

Florian Zemmin

The Modern Prophet: Rashīd Riḍā’s Construction of Muḥammad as Religious and Social Reformer

The journal al-Manār, published from Cairo between 1898 and 1940, was the mouthpiece of Islamic modernism, that intellectual trend which articulated modernity from within the Islamic discursive tradition. Islam was thus used to distinguish between and at the same time connect both twins of the modern order, religion and society. The Prophet Muḥammad not only brought allegedly godly, timeless teachings most appropriate for modernity, but also himself took care of both religion and society. This chapter shows how the editor of al-Manār, Rashīd Riḍā, constructed the figure of the Prophet to represent an ideal religious and social reformer. This representation pursued two aims: the emotionally charged figure of the Prophet mediated the salience and practicability of abstract Islamic principles to a wider audience; and he served as a role model and lent authority to Riḍā, the self-styled reformist, himself. The reconstruction of prophets as social reformers was not peculiar to Islam, as the author illustrates by pointing to parallel endeavours by modern Jewish and Christian theologians and intellectuals. These parallels attest to the primacy of modernity in Riḍā’s appropriation of the Islamic tradition, and specifically in his construction of the Prophet Muḥammad.


Zemmin, Florian. "The Modern Prophet: Rashīd Riḍā's Construction of Muḥammad as Religious and Social Reformer." In The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam, edited by Rachida Chih, Stefan Reichmuth, und David Jordan, 349-69 (Leiden: Brill, 2021).

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2021

Islamism, Islamic Modernism and the Search for Modern Authenticity in an Imaginary Past

Dietrich Jung

Islamism, Islamic Modernism and the Search for Modern Authenticity in an Imaginary Past

How to be authentically modern? This was the pervasive question behind the ideological elaborations of numerous religious and nationalist movements toward the end of the nineteenth century. Many of them attempted to find the answer in an imaginary past. This article claims that Islamist movements are not an exception, but rather an affirmation to this rule. The orientation towards a “golden age” of Islam and its allegedly authentic Islamic way of life has been a crucial feature of Islamist thought across all national, sectarian and ideological divides. The article traces this invocation of the past historically back to the construction of specifically Islamic forms of modernity by representatives of Islamic modernism in the second half of the nineteenth century. Interpreting their modernist thought in the context of more global nineteenth-century concepts and narratives, the article argues from a comparative perspective that Islamic modernism laid the foundations for the ways in which Islamist thinkers have constructed both individual and collective forms of Muslim identities.


Jung, Dietrich. “Islamism, Islamic Modernism and the Search for Modern Authenticity in an Imaginary Past.” Religions 12, no. 11 (2021): 1–13.

2021

Monism and the Religion of Science: How a German New Religious Movement Birthed American Academic Philosophy

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm

Monism and the Religion of Science: How a German New Religious Movement Birthed American Academic Philosophy

Monism was not just a philosophical outlook, but also an early twentieth-century new religious movement. Founded by the internationally renowned evolutionary theorist Ernst Haeckel, it was supposed to be a “Religion of Science” that repudiated matter-mind dualism in favor of reverence for a divinized Mother Nature. This article traces the genesis of the German Monist League and how it was transplanted to the United States by the publisher, Paul Carus. Although readers of this journal are likely to know about new religions that embrace “pseudoscience,” the surprise is that Monism had followers with significant scientific renown including multiple Nobel Prize-winning scientists, famous philosophers of science, and even a celebrated sociologist. Scholars of secularism or science and religion will want to know about how Haeckel and his followers constructed a hybrid Scientific Faith or Secular Church that this article demonstrates went on to provide the foundation for professionalizing American philosophy.

Storm, Jason Ānanda Josephson. “Monism and the Religion of Science.” Nova Religio 25, no. 2 (2021): 12–39.

2021

Conceptual History of the Near East. The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity

Florian Zemmin and Henning Sievert

Conceptual History of the Near East. The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity

Conceptual history holds tremendous potential to address a central issue in Near Eastern Studies, namely the formation of modernity in the Near East, provisionally located between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth cen-turies. The encounter with European powers, primarily Britain and France, was a decisive historical factor in this formation; and European hegemony is, in fact, inscribed into the very concept of “modernity,”  which we take as an historical, rather than analytical, concept. Th e conceptual formation of modernity in Arabic and Turkish was, however, a multilayered process; involving both ruptures and continuities, intersecting various temporalities, and incorporating concepts from several languages. To interrogate this multilayered process, we suggest the metaphor of the Sattelzeit (Saddle Period) as a heuristic tool, precisely because of its being tied to modernity. Finally, the article will show what conceptual history of the Near East has to off er to conceptual history more broadly.


Zemmin, Florian and Henning Sievert. “Conceptual History of the Near East. The Sattelzeit as a Heuristic Tool for Interrogating the Formation of a Multilayered Modernity.” Contributions to the History of Concepts 16, no. 2 (2021): 1-26.

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2021

On the (Un)Doing of Anthropology and Secularity, and its Relevance for Religious Studies

Bjørn Ola Tafjord

On the (Un)Doing of Anthropology and Secularity, and its Relevance for Religious Studies

This essay is a response to the inquiries and discussions of ‘anthropology’s secular conditioning’ that Khaled Furani, Joel Robbins, Jonathan Boyarin, Matthew Engelke, Richard Handler, Elayne Oliphant, and Eduardo Dullo initiate in this thematic issue of Religion. I focus on the moves that constitute anthropology and secularity. Whereas I endorse the grounded approaches that Boyarin, Engelke, Handler, Oliphant, and Dullo represent, and their highlighting of ambiguities and complexities in practices of anthropology and secularity, I am critical of Furani and Robbins’ attempt at ‘moving outside the secular condition’ by turning anthropology into an attitude in which openness to the divine appears vital. Historically, the religion/secular binary is intrinsic not only to a Christian conditioning of Western scholarship but also to political and popular practices that have materialized across the world. To me, therefore, doing religion does not seem like a credible way of undoing anthropology’s secular conditioning.


Tafjord, Bjørn Ola. “On the (Un)Doing of Anthropology and Secularity,and Its Relevance for Religious Studies.” Religion 51, no. 4 (2021): 614–22.

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2021

A Field Perspective on Sustainability Transitions: The Case of Religious Organizations

Jens Koehrsen and Fabian Huber

A Field Perspective on Sustainability Transitions: The Case of Religious Organizations

This article proposes the field perspective as an approach to explain organizational activities in sustainability transitions. It applies this framework to analyze environmental activities of religious organizations in Germany and Switzerland. Religious organizations can become important actors in transitions by drawing on their extensive membership, material resources, and public visibility. However, to date, research is dearth about the conditions that facilitate transition activities of religious organizations. The empirical insights of this study show differences in the activities (a) between religious incumbents and challengers and (b) between the supra-local and local scale. The field perspective allows for explaining these differences as outcomes of the organizations’ power positions and diverging institutional logics on the supra-local and local scale. Rather than religious beliefs, the interplay of power and scale-specific logics shapes activities of religious organizations.

Koehrsen, Jens, and Fabian Huber. “A Field Perspective on Sustainability Transitions: The Case of Religious Organizations.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 40, no. 3 (2021): 408–20.

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2021

Negotiating Authority in the Bongolava Region, Madagascar

Peter Kneitz

Negotiating Authority in the Bongolava Region, Madagascar

Lasting problems of disorder on the island of Madagascar, and the incapacity of state actors to control or to prevent insecurity effectively, are driving villagers in rural areas to search urgently for solutions. The ethnographic case study focuses on the recent establishment of two vigilante groups in the Bongolava region of middle-western Madagascar, the so-called Zazamainty and Lambamena, whose work is based, among others, on a magic worldview and a locally well-known cultural code related to the precolonial past. The inactivity of the state sets the precondition for such magic momentum, as villagers are taking recourse on ideas and practices based on what is presented as ‘traditional authority,’ the only and last refuge they have. Villagers, by consequence, appear to navigate between two parallel, partly concurrently and overlapping registers of authority and legitimacy: State authority, and the connected global normativity of the legal state, of democracy, of peacemaking, or civil society on the one side, and local expressions of authority on the other. Malagasy actors, however, are particularly able and experienced to act within such dynamic world of plural legitimacies and authorities, as an additional regard on the horizon of long-standing cultural patterns allows to conclude.

Kneitz, Peter. “A Magic Momentum: Negotiating Authority in the Bongolava Region, Madagascar.” In Challenging Authorities: Ethnographies of Legitimacy and Power in Eastern and Southern Africa, edited by Arne S. Steinforth, and Sabine Klocke-Daffa, 319–45. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

2021

Religious Freedom, Legal Activism, and Muslim Personal Law in Contemporary India: A Sociological Exploration of Secularism

Anindita Chakrabarti

Religious Freedom, Legal Activism, and Muslim Personal Law in Contemporary India: A Sociological Exploration of Secularism

This chapter focuses on the recent judicial activism in reforming Muslim Personal Law (mpl) in India questioning the relationship between religious freedom, citizenship rights, and secularism. India follows a regime of religion-specific personal law in matters of marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption, custody of children, succession, and inheritance of property. In recent years, a unique jurisdiction of the Indian appellate judiciary known as the Public Interest Litigation (pil) has been often evoked to question and reform religious practices, including personal laws and especially the mpl. In this chapter, two landmark pil cases — the Vishwa Lochan Madan case and the Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality (popularly known as the Triple Talaq case) — that subjected mpl to judicial scrutiny, are analyzed. The trajectory of these two discrepant cases foregrounds the multivalent nature of constitutional law and their efficacy in understanding the issue of secularism in India. It shows how the boundaries between the religious and secular, created and contested in the judicial sphere, have important consequences for our understanding of religious freedom of minorities and women’s rights in a multi-cultural, post-colonial nation-state.

Chakrabarti, Anindita. “Religious Freedom, Legal Activism, and Muslim Personal Law in Contemporary India: A Sociological Exploration of Secularism.” In Religious Freedom: Social-Scientific Approaches, edited by Olga Breskaya, Roger Finke, and Giuseppe Giordan, 35–58. Brill, 2021.

2021

European History of Religion, Global History of Religion: On the Expansion of a Gladigowian Concept for the Study of Religion

Adrian Hermann

European History of Religion, Global History of Religion: On the Expansion of a Gladigowian Concept for the Study of Religion

In the 1990s, Burkhard Gladigow proposed the concept of a European History of Religion in order to complicate existing accounts of the religious developments in Europe since the Renaissance and to ofer an elaborate model of historical analysis for the study of religion as a cultural studies discipline. Tis approach has been criticized by some scholars as needlessly privileging Europe as the space of a particular historical development that supposedly is more complex and essentially diferent from non-European histories (of religion). In this chapter I want to argue that on the contrary, Gladigow's European History of Religion from the outset aimed at a much more open model and implied a potential extension to a global perspective. In a later text he expands on his 1995 proposal by suggesting that the constellation of a »European History of Religion« has to be understood as the succession to a »Mediterranean« and a »Roman« History of Religion. While Gladigow does not spend much time describing in detail what he means by the latter two, I want to argue that in a continuation of this idea and as a succession to the European History of Religion since at least the 19th century we can speak of a Global History of Religion. Additionally, one of the main takeaways from Gladigow's approach, next to the large number of not yet fully explored analytical ideas regarding specifc characteristics of modern European history which he developed out of his deep knowledge of the Ancient world, is the attention that he paid both to semantic changes as well as to the structural dimensions of the European History of Religion.4 Both aspects can fruitfully be taken up in a global context

Hermann, Adrian. “European History of Religion, Global History of Religion: On the Expansion of a Gladigowian Concept for the Study of Religion.” In Religion in Culture — Culture in Religion: Burkhard Gladigow's Contribution to Shifting Paradigms in the Study of Religion, edited by Christoph Auffarth, Alexandra Grieser, and Anne Koch, 237–68. Universität Tübingen.

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2021

Etsi deus non daretur: die Säkularität von Religionswissenschaft

Horst Junginger

Etsi deus non daretur: die Säkularität von Religionswissenschaft

Bei der wissenschaftlichen Arbeit die Annahme einer realen Existenz von Gott, Göttern und anderen übernatürlichen Wesen auszuklammern, gehört zu den Grundvoraussetzungen der nichttheologischen Religionswissenschaft. Um nicht in den Streit der Religionen über den Wahrheitsgehalt ihrer Glaubenslehren hineingezogen zu werden, stützt sie sich auf das Prinzip des »methodischen Agnostizismus«, der mit einem positiven Glaubens- oder Unglaubensbekenntnis nicht vereinbar ist. In Abgrenzung zum Wissenschaftsverständnis der Theologie als Lehre von oder Rede über Gott (θεός + λόγος) postuliert der Agnostizismus die grundsätzliche Unerkennbarkeit einer transzendenten Realität. Auf dieser Grundlage wurde es möglich, sich vom Wahrheitsanspruch des Christentums distanzieren zu können, ohne ihn explizit verneinen zu müssen. 

Junginger, Horst. “Etsi deus non daretur: die Säkularität von Religionswissenschaft.” In Religion in Culture — Culture in Religion: Burkhard Gladigow's Contribution to Shifting Paradigms in the Study of Religion, edited by Christoph Auffarth, Alexandra Grieser, and Anne Koch, 119–40. Universität Tübingen, 2021.

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