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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.
more Working Papers

Dietrich Jung
Islamic Modernities in World Society

The Rise, Spread, and Fragmentation of a Hegemonic Idea

Islamic Modernities in World Society

How is one “authentically” modern? Substantively drawing on contemporary social theory, this book inverstigates the multiplicity of answers that Muslims have given to this question since the end of the nineteenth century. Through six historical and thematic case studies, the author examines the historical evolution of multiple modernities within Islam. The book argues that we can observe the rise and spread of a relatively hegemonic idea according to which the relation to Islamic traditions bestows projects of Muslim modernities with cultural authenticity. At the same time, it provides an interpretation of this specifically Islamic discourse of modernity as an inherent part of global modernity in conceptual terms understood as the ergence of world society.


Jung, Dietrich. Islamic Modernities in World Society. The Rise, Spread, and Fragmentation of an Hegemonic Idea. Edinburgh Studies of the Globalised Muslim World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023.

more books

Housamedden Darwish
Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: From Hard Secularism to Soft Secularism [in arabic]

Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: From Hard Secularism to Soft Secularism [in arabic]

Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, a notable Arab secularist, had undergone a significant evolution in his understanding of secularity/secularism over his extensive intellectual journey. This paper delves into the transformations within al-Azm’s perception of secularity/secularism, analyzing its nuanced progression from an initial phase of hard or rigid secularism resembling the French Laicité and “Turkish Ataturk” approach to a later phase characterized by a softer or more flexible form of secularism akin to the American and “Erdogan Turkish” styles. The study refrains from presenting a conventional narrative of secularity/secularism and, instead, employs the three fundamental theses of traditional secularization theories to elucidate the meaning of secularism and emphasize their normative implications concerning religion, modernity, and modernization. Additionally, the paper explores the critiques levelled at these theories and acknowledges the paradigmatic shift that has transpired over the past five decades in their understanding. The investigation into al-Azm’s evolving perspectives on secularity/secularism sheds light on the silent transformation he underwent, unaccompanied by explicit acknowledgments or self-criticism, and devoid of references to the evolving landscape of secularization theories within the social sciences.

Darwish, Housamedden. “Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: From Hard Secularism to Soft Secularism [in arabic].”  Rowaq Maysaloon 1011 (2023): 286302.

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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