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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

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

Gudrun Krämer
#23: Religion, Culture, and the Secular: The Case of Islam

#23: Religion, Culture, and the Secular: The Case of IslamWhy jump into a sea, where everything is seemingly fleeting, floating, and fluid? There is not a single concept that offers solid ground to stand on: ‘religion’ is problematic, ‘culture’ elusive, ‘secularity’ contested, and ‘Islam’ one big question mark. ‘Identity’, to name that which looms so large in modern contexts, fares no better. Yet jump we must if we are to do more than critique conceptualisations that we consider flawed, and instead provide what is expected of academics: critical reflection that does justice to the subject at hand, while at the same time speaking to wider intellectual, moral, and political concerns. This paper contributes to the debate on multiple secularities by discussing conceptualisations of religion and culture and their relevance to articulations of secularity ‘in Islam’. Written from the perspective of historically grounded Islamic studies, with a focus on the period up to 1500, this paper nonetheless addresses current concerns, for while the secular and hints at secularity can be identified in pre-modern Muslim majority contexts, they only emerged as themes of theoretically informed debate in the modern period.
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Haraldur Hreinsson
Force of Words

A Cultural History of Christianity and Politics in Medieval Iceland (11th- 13th Centuries)

Force of Words

In this book, Haraldur Hreinsson examines the social and political significance of the Christian religion as the Roman Church was taking hold in medieval Iceland in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. By way of diverse sources, primarily hagiography and sermons but also material sources, the author shows how Christian religious ideas came into play in the often tumultuous political landscape of the time. The study illuminates how the Church, which was gathering strength across entire Europe, established itself through the dissemination of religious vernacular discourse at the northernmost borders of its dominion.

Hreinsson, Haraldur. Force of Words: A Cultural History of Christianity and Politics in Medieval Iceland (11th-13th Centuries). Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2021.

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Rinku Lamba
Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience

Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience

A lot of discussion about the place of religion in the public-political sphere has been generated by Jürgen Habermas’s introduction of the term “postsecular.” But, according to Charles Taylor, even the new openness to religion suggested by a postsecular perspective may not provide enough resources for enabling an appropriate understanding of secularism that is free from what he calls a fi xation with religion. For Taylor, it is a mistake to view secularism as a doctrine in which the state is pitted against religion. In place of the mistaken view, Taylor recommends interpreting secularity as something that requires the state to be neutral among all beliefs and not just religion-related ones. He says, “We think that secularism (or laicite) has to do with the relation of the state and religion; whereas in fact it has to do with the (correct) response of the democratic state to diversity”. While elaborating the problems with understandings of secularism that fi xate on religion, Taylor notes how the special concern with religion as the main problem relates back to Western history. For example, in France “the notion stuck that laïcité was all about controlling and managing religion”.

Lamba, Rinku. “Religion and the Postsecular: Reflection on the Indian Experience.” In Religion in the Era of Postsecularism. Edited by Uchenna Okeja, 123–47. London: Routledge, 2020.

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