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Ongoing Projects

Research Projects

Religion Literacy – Auf dem Weg zu einer empirisch fundierten konstruktivistischen ReligionsdidaktikHide

Head: Dr. Stefan Schröder
Duration: 2021-2024
Funding: Robert Bosch Stiftung

The project started on 1 March 2021. In addition to Dr. Stefan Schröder, our research associate Sophie Faulstich is also involved in the project.

The goal of the project is to develop empirically grounded didactics for teaching religion in schools. The method will be suitable for popular religion-related subjects such as ethics and values and norms, as well as languages, history, and geography. The overarching learning objective of the didactics of the Study of Religion is Religion Literacy, which entails a critical and informed understanding of religion as a social phenomenon rather than a reproduction of common essentializing concepts of religion based in personal experience.  

The project comprises a programmatic and an empirical dimension, which are intended to inform and complement one another. The empirical part of the project involves putting common preconceptions students hold about religion “in a dialogue” with the broader didactic framework. 

In the framework of the project, there will be a constant exchange of ideas between scholars, education specialists and teachers in the form of workshops and conferences organised by the project team. The goal is to develop a didactic concept that will advance disciplinary discourse and contribute to the advancement of teaching practise.

 Religious engineering. The making of moralities, development and religion in Niger (Exzellenzcluster Africa Multiple)Hide
Religious engineering

Project members in Bayreuth: Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert (PhD), Prof. Dr. Paula Schrode (leader), Ibrahim Bachir Abdoulaye (PhD), Prof. Dr. Eva Spies (leader, PI)

Project partner at Université Abdou Moumouni Niamey, Niger: Prof. Dr. Mahaman Sanoussi Tidjani Alou (leader)

Project description

Promotion Projects

Islamkritik – Islamreform? Muslimische Stimmen im deutschsprachigen Islamdiskurs (working title)Hide

PhD Candidate: Benedikt Erb, M.A.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bochinger

In the German-language Islamic discourse, speaking about Islam has taken the form of Islamkritik, in which Muslim voices often serve as the key informants. By focusing on the emic pair of concepts Islamkritik and Islamreform, the dissertation project seeks to investigate the agency of Muslim voices or those marked as Muslim in this framework, and how these respond, along the lines of the Foucauldian “dispositive,” to the discursive urgency. Among the objectives of the project is to systematise these positions in terms of their content and (non-) religious self-positioning, and to examine the processes of organisation and professionalisation, as well as claims of representation, articulated in the context of religio-political negotiations. Last but not least, the project seeks to identify metaphors that can be used to describe Islamic reform processes in the German Islamic discourse. Here, Michael Blume’s “quiet retreat” and the paradigm of “secular Islam” will be taken into consideration.

Der 'Türke' als Motiv in Toleranzdiskursen nonkonformistischer Strömungen der deutschsprachigen ReformationHide

PhD Candidate: Ines Sonntag, M.A.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bochinger, Prof. Dr. Susanne Lachenicht

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries numerous works were dedicated to the question of how to deal with various forms of Christianity that emerged in the course of the Reformation and confessionalization. Within this discourse, frequent references were made to “Turks” who had reached Vienna by this point and represented a significant military threat. The dissertation project investigates how references to “Turks” figured in the confessional disputes and what influence they had on the notion of tolerance at the time. What role did individual narratives (from antichrist to idols) play in the Christian discourse on tolerance? How did the “Turk” contribute to the resolution of inner political conflicts?

Gegenwärtige Theosophie in Deutschland (working title)Hide

PhD Candidate: Christian Uhrig, M.A.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bochinger

The project deals with the current state of theosophy in Germany, which is often described as a “declining religion.” Since there is hardly any scholarly literature on the subject, one of the objectives of the work is to ask whether it is actually appropriate to speak of theosophy as a  “declining religion.” It is assumed that there are around 10,000 followers of theosophy worldwide, with the majority based in the Anglo-Saxon world and India. According to Stefan Rademacher, the Theosophical Society of Germany had 150-160 members in 2001. In addition, there are numerous smaller theosophical association with less than fifty members each. By focusing on the existing groups and initiatives, the project aims to describe the current state of theosophy in Germany. The research will involve fieldwork with a particular focus on theosophical ritual practise, forms of communication, and community-building.

PhD Projects (BIGSAS Junior Fellows)Hide

The Role of Charitable Activities of Turkish Organisations in Niger (working title)

The main objective of this project is to understand the role of the activities of Turkish charitable organizations, which are shaping the new image of contemporary Turkey, in the processes of ongoing social transformation in Niger. Thus, based on concepts of ‘religious engineering’ and ‘morality/ethics’, this project aims to explore and analyze humanitarian aid and development projects carried out by Turkish charities in Niger from a relational perspective through an interdisciplinary study.

This project intends to achieve these goals by investigating the following main research questions: How are Turkish charities related to "religion" in the conduct of their charitable activities? What kind of interaction exists between these charities and other actors such as donors, target groups and state? How and what moralities are generated from these multiple processes of relating? In this study, ethnographic research will be used as the dominant methodology to answer the research questions.

Associations de dialogue interreligieux et gouvernance de la pluralité religieuse au Niger : vers une laicité «de contexte»

Inter-religious activities represent a place of encounter between people who may or may not belong to the same religious tradition, and offer an opportunity to observe the interactions that occur. Set up in Niger by NGOs, these inter-religious associations are mainly involved in promoting peaceful cohabitation and conflict prevention. These associations operate throughout the country to the point where the State is trying to make them a tool for the management of religious plurality through inter and intra religious dialogue.

What do these associations tell us about the transformations of the Nigerien religious landscape resulting from the new religious situation and the ways of managing the plurality that it induces? As part of a socio-anthropology of religion, this research aims to show how religious differences are mobilised in the service of living together, as well as the challenges that this initiative faces.

Entrepreneurship and Prosperity Gospel. A Business Ethical Perspective on Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches in Ghana

The research is exploratory in nature. It has seven Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, their pastors and their ancillary philanthropic and profit generating institutions such as educational setups and social service agencies as subject of study. The churches, all headquartered in the Accra metropolis of Ghana, include the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), Royalhouse Chapel International (RCI), Action Chapel International (ACI), Perez Chapel International (PCI), Global Revival Ministries (GRM) and Harvest Chapel Ministries (HIM). Focusing on these churches as religious-economic enterprises and their pastoral agents and institutional managers both as entrepreneurs and as ethical leaders, the work will dedicate a special attention to internal entrepreneurial structures of the churches and their para-institutions and to the message of prosperity that serves as a success-factor in the NP/C religious-economy. Consequently, the work will rest on the three hinges of church economy, ethical concepts and ethical conduct.

Penser et faire le développement au Niger : Le rôle des acteurs islamiques locaux (working title)

This thesis tries to describe and analyse the project of social transformation pursued by a Salafist association in Niger. In order to achieve this objective, the study explores the explicit and implicit visions of a ‘‘different society’’ expressed not only in official documents of this association but also in the activities they are carrying out.

The study does not take these visions of an ‘‘otherwise’’ as given, but as dynamically emerging and shaped through the transformative actions implemented by the association. This research pays particular attention to the terminologies used to designate the expected results of their actions as well as the forms of commitment to act and change the Nigerien society which are observable in the Salafi associative milieu in Niger. The research accounts for the gendered dimensions that permeate processes of social transformation and the position of women as promoted in the explicit and implicit visions of a “different society” in Niger.

This PhD project is part of the research project “Religious engineering: the making of moralities, development and religion in Niger” within the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence.

Habilitation Projects

Magnus Echtler: Routinizing the Black Messiah (completed)

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