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The work of the research group finds its expression in various publication formats. In addition to monographs, edited volumes and articles by individual members of the research group, we also make (preliminary) research results available for academic discourse in the form of working papers.

Furthermore, with the Companion to the Study of Secularity, the research group is pursuing a long-term, collaborative publication project that aims to make research on phenomena of the conceptual distinction and structural differentiation of "religion" accessible to a larger academic audience and thus to contribute to opening up a new field of research and facilitating interdisciplinary exchange.

Working papers as well as entries for the Companion to the Study of Secularity are reviewed by at least two peers from the research group prior to publication.

Latest Publications


Roberto Blancarte
#27: Populism, Religion, and Secularity in Latin America and Europe: A Comparative Perspective

#27: Populism, Religion, and Secularity in Latin America and Europe: A Comparative PerspectiveMuch has been written in the past few decades about populism that most scholars approaching the subject feel obliged to begin by justifying their writing of yet another text. In this paper, the situation is somewhat different: whilst our analytical gaze is cast upon populism (and fascism, as a precursor or closely related social phenomenon), this is only indirectly the case. Our primary focus is, instead, on the relationship that populism has with religion and secularity. Or, more precisely, the relationships of diverse populisms with different religiosities and various secularities. While the religious and the secular are mentioned in numerous studies about populism, these topics have rarely been adequately elaborated. Even when they are discussed, they are treated only in a marginal way. The purpose of this work is, therefore, to highlight the complex and multi-faceted way that populisms in Europe and Latin America have related to religion and religiosity. A second, parallel objective of this work is to reflect on the particular relationships populism establishes with different understandings of the secular, specifically within the political sphere, i.e. ‘political secularity.’ Following the differentiation paradigm, another term one might see used for this is ‘laicity’ (laïcité in French, laicidad in Spanish). I understand this to refer specifically to the secularisation of the state and the areas of society which come under its control.
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​Katja Triplett, ed.
Translated Religion

In a Forest of True Words

Translated Religion

The history of religion is always a history of translation, too. When religious speech is transcribed, holy scripture is created – sacred writings that are considered to apply to everyone. Translating holy writings in order to spread one’s own religion poses major challenges for translators, such as how to bridge the often considerable gaps between source and target languages. Sometimes the languages belong to different language families. Sometimes the original language is extinct and knowledge of it is hazy. In some religious traditions, a particular language or register is reserved for holy scripture, and adherents may regard the translation of their holy book into a vernacular as reprehensible. Another challenge is posed by the wide range of writing systems and alphabets used to represent the plethora of languages past and present. Note that translation is not limited to the written word, for religious images are also ‘translated’ when they are transposed into a new context.
Equally, some writers put holy words in the mouths of certain
authority figures, using a form of creative ‘translation’ to publicise a particular religious interpretation and claim its legitimacy. Another kind of translation takes place between different media, one especially popular form being the translation of knowledge and information gained from images into texts and vice versa.
In this catalogue, researchers from various disciplines use exam
ples to explore translation shifts between oral and written texts, between literature and religion, between schools of the same religion, between different religious traditions, and, finally, between academia and religion. The exhibition Translated Religion is also intended as a showcase of current scholarly efforts to ‘translate’ historical texts and images from the holdings of Leipzig University Library into an intelligible form for visitors.

Katja Triplett, ed. Translated Religion: In a Forest of True Words, translated by Chris Abbey, with contributions by Thandi Allen. Exhibition Catalogue. Schriften aus der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, 53. Leipzig: Universitätsverlag Leipzig, 2023.

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Housamedden Darwish
Conference Report: The Relationship Between State and Religion in the Arab and Islamicate Contexts: Civil State, Secular State, Religious/Islamic State

Conference Report: The Relationship Between State and Religion in the Arab and Islamicate Contexts: Civil State, Secular State, Religious/Islamic State

What do the terms or concepts “civil state,” “secular state,” and “religious/Islamic state” mean? How can we understand the existing or possible relationships between religion/Islam and the state or politics in the Arab-Islamicate contexts based on the aforementioned concepts and their relationship to the concept of democracy? These were the two main questions that the conference “The Relationship between State and Religion in Arab and Islamic Contexts: The Civil State, the Secular State, and the Religious/Islamic State” sought to address, exploring multiple possibilities and perspectives. These two questions, as well as other related questions, deal with two distinct and overlapping aspects of the actual and/or potential relationship between the state and/or politics and religion/Islam. They include both a descriptive aspect, that seeks to reveal “what is,” and a normative aspect that shows, from an ethical, political, and philosophical perspective, “what should be.”

The papers presented at the conference covered studies on the relationship of religion with the state in many Arab Islamic countries (Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, etc.), as well as reflections and theoretical discussion from various academic disciplines and different political perspectives in Arab and Islamic countries. These papers attempted to answer the following questions: What are the forms and implications of the relationship between state and religion in Arab-Islamicate contexts? How could/should we theoretically approach the concepts that express this relationship? What is the relationship between state and religion in intellectual and political Arab and Islamicate contexts? In what sense and to what extent can we talk about a state as civil, secular and/or religious/Islamic? Does secularism mean the separation of religion (or church) from state, politics, or sovereignty? Or does it mean the separation of religious and political authorities? What are the practical and conceptual differences between these definitions and meanings of secularism? Can the concept of “civil state” be a complementary, substitute, or alternative concept to those of “secular state” and “religious/Islamic state”? In what sense and to what extent can each of these states be democratic?

Housamedden Darwish. “Conference Report: The Relationship Between State and Religion in the Arab and Islamicate Contexts: Civil State, Secular State, Religious/Islamic State.” 9-10 December 2021, Leipzig University, 2023.

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Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz
The “White History”: Religion and Secular Rule in Buddhist Mongolia

nameWith the assertion of Buddhism as the dominant religion at the end of the 16th century, a new reflection on the relationship between the secular and the religious commenced among the Mongols. They adopted the Joint Twofold System of Governance formulated in Buddhist Tibet, and adapted it to the Mongolian cultural context. This system of governance is described in the work “The White History”, written in the late 16th century, with the epistemic distinctions between the religious and the secular discursively negotiated in the work. Although the impact of these distinctions on the social differentiations of Mongolian society during the Qing period (1644–1911) remains to be investigated, the “White History” nonetheless provides a valuable insight into pre-modern Mongolian notions of the distinction between the religious and the secular.
more Companion entries