The Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures” was founded in 2007 at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Some 200 academics from more than 20 disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences and from 14 countries do research on the relationship of religion and politics across epochs and cultures. It is nationally the largest research association of its kind and of the 43 clusters of excellence in Germany, it is the only one to deal with religions. The German Federal Government and the Federal States are supporting the project with 33.7 million euros in the Excellence Initiative’s second funding phase from 2012 to 2017.

The almost 80 research projects range from antiquity until today: from the world of ancient Gods to Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period to the current situation in Europe, America, Asia and Africa. The research involves the following subjects: history, law, political science, religious sociology and religious science, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Islamic theology, classical and modern philology as well as philosophy, Arab studies, ethnology, archaeology, Egyptology, Jewish studies, Byzantine studies, musicology and book studies.

The members of the Cluster of Excellence cooperate across interdisciplinary boundaries and deal with the topic from a broad historical perspective. They do basic research and, at the same time, aim at providing reflective knowledge so that pressing present-day problems in a globalised society may be dealt with. The aggravation of several politico-religious conflicts in the world has increasingly intensified the topicality of the subject of “religion and politics” of late. The Centre for Research Communication stimulates the dialogue of science with representatives of the media, politics, society, culture, the churches and religious communities. It acts as intermediary as regards the researchers’ expertise on current issues.

A graduate school for PhD students forms part of the research association. A school for postdoctoral academics was added in 2012. Both institutions offer young academics particularly favourable conditions for independent research.

The Cluster of Excellence is divided into four fields of research: normativity, mediality, integration and violence. In 2012, four interconnecting platforms on crosscutting issues were added as crosslinks: the differentiation of religion and politics, transcultural interrelations, the relationship of religion, politics and gender, and questions of cultural ambiguity. The almost 80 individual projects contribute empirical knowledge to the fields of research and to the interconnecting platforms.

As a result of the Cluster of Excellence’s activities, Münster has become a unique place for interdisciplinary religious research. In order to safeguard this, the University develops sustained structures beyond the Excellence Initiative. Even in the first funding phase from 2007 to 2012, in addition to new professorships, three centres were founded: the Center for Religion and Modernity, the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and the Centre for Eastern Mediterranean History and Culture. They serve to attract new research associations and as a forum for public events, publication series and journal editors. A visiting professorship on the issue of religion and politics, named after the Münster philosopher Hans Blumenberg, will link the centres and make for international incentives.

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Exzellenzcluster Religion & Politik
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· D-48143 Münster
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