Museums are receiving currently a lot of public attention with regard to the material objects they host, and the historical and contemporary handling of these objects. There are global public debates about the origins, paths, and futures of museum things. Since at least 2018, with the report on the restitution of African cultural heritage, which Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy presented to the French president, the legitimacy of objects from colonial contexts in museums and collections in the global north has been widely debated. Furthermore, disciplines within cultural studies, including the study of religions, have taken a material turn, and now focus on the material, and thus also on museum things. This has brought the material dimension of religion into the focus of research in various disciplines. Studying materiality can thus open a pathway for potential critique of established patterns in research, historiography, and society, widening our perspective. It was against this multifaceted background that the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Religion (ZIR) and the Museum of Religions (Religionskundliche Sammlung) of the Philipps-University Marburg, the Museum of the Frankfurt Cathedral, and the GRASSI Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig formed a research network on the topic of Dynamics of Religious Things in Museums (Dynamiken religiöser Dinge im Museum, REDIM in short). This cooperative alliance, under the leadership of the ZIR, is based on the common interest in the relevance of religious materials in museums for social transformation, and in how social processes are reflected by material things.
Franke, Edith, und Ramona Jelinek-Menke, eds. Handling Religious Things: The Material and the Social in Museums. Hildesheim: Olms, 2022.