“Is ‘No Religion’ the New Religion?”

Sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead will be next “Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professor”

Prof. Dr. Linda Woodhead - Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professor
Prof. Dr. Linda Woodhead - Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professor
© Christine Baker-Parrish

The internationally renowned sociologist of religion Prof. Dr. Linda Woodhead from Lancaster University will assume the “Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professorship” at the University of Münster’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” in the summer semester 2017. During her stay at the WWU, the British academic will focus on the worldwide growing number of so-called “nones”, people who are unaffiliated with any religion. In a public lecture she will discuss the question “Is ‘No Religion’ the New Religion?”. The lecture will be held in English on Monday, 8 May 2017, 6.15 pm in the lecture building of the Cluster of Excellence, room JO 101, Johannisstraße 4 in Münster.

Linda Woodhead and the Cluster of Excellence will host an interdisciplinary “Hans Blumenberg Conference” for the first time in May: “‘Nones’ in selected countries in Western and Eastern Europe and the U.S.: A comparison”. Together with researchers from Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Estonia, Hungary, Germany and the USA, members of the Cluster of Excellence will explore the socio-structural profile of the “nones” and their religious attitudes.

“Numerous intersections”

“In her research Linda Woodhead is concerned with secularisation, religion, values and gender as well as the relationship of religion and emotion”, says the speaker of the Cluster of Excellence, sociologist of religion Prof. Dr. Detlef Pollack. “These focus areas offer numerous intersections with those of the Cluster of Excellence.” The scholar distinguished herself in particular with her theory of the “spiritual revolution”. “With this she describes a structural change of religion in modern societies through which new individualistic and syncretistic religious forms gain in importance and increasingly supersede declining ecclesial ties”, Prof. Pollack explains.

Linda Woodhead, born in Somerset, England, in 1964, is Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University. In 2013 the academic was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to higher education. She has been awarded honorary degrees by the universities of Uppsala, Zurich and Oslo. Recently, the scholar was invited to the World Economic Forum summit in Davos as member of the Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith. She has published several works on religion in modern societies, among them a book that aroused international interest: “The Spiritual Revolution” (co-written with Paul Heelas, 2005) is based on research in Kendal, a town in England, documenting the growth of Christian and alternative spirituality. Further publications include “A Sociology of Religious Emotion” (co-authored with Ole Riis, 2010) and “That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People” (2016). Prof. Woodhead studied Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge University and specialised in the empirical study of culture, religion and values.

“Owing to her long experience in interdisciplinary research on religion and society, Linda Woodhead is a great enrichment for the Cluster of Excellence”, Prof. Pollack emphasises. From 2007 until 2012 the new Blumenberg Visiting Professor was Director of the 15 million euros interdisciplinary “Religion and Society research programme” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the “Economic and Social Research Council”.

Two Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professors

In the summer semester 2017 the Cluster of Excellence has for the first time appointed two Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professors. Ethnologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Hauschild from the University of Halle-Wittenberg will follow Prof. Woodhead in June and July.

In the coming semesters renowned researchers from varying disciplines will be appointed to the Hans Blumenberg Visiting Professorship. The Bochum historian Prof. Dr. Lucian Hölscher was the first Visiting Professor in the summer semester 2016, succeeded by the Würzburg legal scholar Prof. Dr. Horst Dreier in the winter semester 2016/2017. (ill/vvm)