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Dr. Jörg Albrecht

Associate Member

Areas of Interest

  • Religion and nutrition
  • New religious movements and religious aspects of alternative and counter-cultures
  • Religious and cultural deviance 
  • Theory of religion, economics of religion, sociology of religion and culture

Research project

In my dissertation I have historically and systematically examined the transfers and transformations of plant-oriented concepts and practices of "alternative nutrition" in Germany from the emergence of organized vegetarianism in the 19th century to the emergence of whole foods and natural foods in the 20th century to the so-called "organic boom" of the recent past. With a focus on both diachronically and synchronously different carrier milieus of "alternative nutrition" and corresponding institutionalizations, I localized the different norms and justifications of food selection, processing, and production in their respective historical, social, and religious contexts. Particular attention is paid to the innovative potential of these initially nonconformist practices and their processes of compatibilisation and adaptation on their way into the mainstream.

Despite numerous historical and current references to religions, alternative diets are not 'religious' phenomena 'sui generis'. However, they can be methodologically reflected and profitably examined from the perspective of the study of religions. Through the application of socio-religious categories with heuristic intent, they can be treated "as if" they were religions or religious phenomena with regard to the entire food culture. In addition, they can be positioned structurally analogous to each other in the ideal-typical field of tension between orthodoxy (hegemonic food system) and heterodoxy ("alternative nutrition") according to their socio-cultural relations in the structure of social hegemony. From this point of view, different phases of social 'upgrading' and 'containment' of some of these knowledge stocks and practices through processes of economization, scientification, legal recognition and state promotion can be determined over the period under study, and this cultural dynamics can be interpreted as a sequence of historically changing conformism-nonconformism constellations.

"Alternative nutrition" has evolved from a non-conforming ''alternative'' to an alternative ''option'' in the pluralism of a diversifying food culture, while actively contributing to this pluralization process. The self- and external attributions of "alternative nutrition" changed by various actors, for example from an (alternative) religious practice to a socially recognized and desired consumer behaviour, which is seen as an expression of a responsible, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Following on from these findings, I am currently working on the conception of a research project on the global entanglement history of "alternative nutrition" and the transnational transfer and re-contextualization processes of some of its concepts and practices in the field of tension between religion, medicine and economics.


2010 - 2014

PhD Fellow, Research Training Group Religious Non-Conformism and Cultural Dynamics, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)

2009 - 2010

Lecturer, Institute of the Study of Religions, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER)


Magister Artium, Study of Religions and Philosophy, Leipzig University, Leipzig (GER) 

Relevant Publications

  • Albrecht, Jörg. “Ludwig Ankenbrand: 'Buddhism and the Modern Reform Efforts‘ (Germany, 1911).” In Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism: A Sourcebook. Edited by Björn Bentlage et al., 186–96. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2016.
  • Albrecht, Jörg. “Religiöser Nonkonformismus: Theoretische Überlegungen aus religionswissenschaftlicher Perspektive.” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Gemeinde, no. 21 (2016): 104–14. 
  • Albrecht, Jörg.“Vom 'Kohlrabiapostel' zum 'Bionade-Biedermeier': Alternative Ernährung zwischen religiöser Marginalität und kulturellem Mainstream.” In Vielfalt und Zusammenhalt: Verhandlungen des 36. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Bochum und Dortmund 2014. Edited by Martina Löw. Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2014.
  • Albrecht, Jörg. “Vegetarische Apostelgeschichten: Was der Veggi-Tag in der Mensa mit religiösem Nonkonformismus und kultureller Dynamik zu tun hat.” Journal der Universität Leipzig 2012, no. 3: 28–29.
  • Albrecht, Jörg. “Mit Hund und Esel auf dem Weg zu Buddha – Ludwig Ankenbrands Pilgerreise.” In Von Aposteln bis Zionisten: Religiöse Kultur im Leipzig des Kaiserreichs. Edited by Iris Edenheiser, 216–26. Marburg: Diagonal Verlag, 2010.
  • Albrecht, Jörg, Christiane Altmann, and Richard Scheringer. “Überlegungen zur Religionswissenschaft als deskriptive Wertewissenschaft: In Anlehnung an Heinz Mürmels Rezeption der Durkheim-Schule.” In Mauss, Buddhismus, Devianz: Festschrift für Heinz Mürmel zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Thomas Hase et al., 19–32. Marburg: Diagonal Verlag, 2009.
  • Albrecht, Jörg. “Religionswissenschaft und Ideologiekritik: Ein Problem der Vergangenheit oder eine aktuelle Aufgabe?” Zeitschrift für junge Religionswissenschaft 2, no. 1 (2007): 10–32.