Traditions in transition from antiquity to the present

Public lecture series “Tradition(s)” opens Cluster of Excellence annual theme – Themes ranging from ancient Egyptian gods to tradition and innovation in Arabic literature, and to the transmission of religious traditions in families today – Lectures from philosophy, theology, law and sociology, Egyptology, Arabic studies, and Romance studies – Participation on site or via Zoom

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Press release 27 October 2021

To launch the new annual theme, “Tradition(s)” at the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, a lecture series of the same name will shed light on how traditions in religions, law and literature emerge, are transmitted, and change. “Seven lectures will create a panorama ranging from antiquity to the present that uses the example of different traditions to show the importance of processes of transmission and to examine how different actors interact in such processes”, explain the Jewish scholar Regina Grundmann and the Catholic theologian Michael Seewald. The series begins on Tuesday, 2 November, with a lecture by the legal historian and Cluster speaker Nils Jansen, who will speak on “Law and its rationality – from the history of universal justice”. Interested parties can attend either on site (with proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative test result for Covid-19), or via Zoom (after prior registration).

The themes of the lectures range from the ancient Egyptian god Amun to the transmission of religious traditions in families today. “Debates about equality, identity or religion often portray traditions as static, but on closer examination we find that they are subject to constant change. Depending on the interests of the group that bears them, traditions have been and still are being changed, reinterpreted, reshaped, kept secret, veiled, or even invented”, explain Regina Grundmann and Michael Seewald. The evening lectures will illuminate this phenomenon from a variety of perspectives: for example, with regard to the relationship between tradition and innovation in Arabic literary studies, tradition and the avant-garde in French literature, tradition and legitimation using the example of liturgical questions, and tradition and knowledge in philosophy.

The lectures will be given by members of the Cluster of Excellence and the University of Münster from the disciplines of Catholic theology, philosophy, Egyptology, Arabic studies, law, Romance studies, and sociology. “We can distinguish at least three aspects in the study of tradition(s): the process of transmission or the act of handing down (‘tradition’); the content or practices of what is handed down (‘traditions’); and the actors or the groups carrying the tradition (‘tradents’ and recipients, as well as their relationship with one another)”, say Regina Grundmann and Michael Seewald. The lecture series “Tradition(s)” will illuminate these three aspects in different ways by dealing with case studies from different epochs.

Second annual theme, “Tradition(s)”

The second annual theme of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” is entitled “Tradition(s)”. The 2021/22 annual programme includes many events and media formats, and will see Cluster members and guests from the academic world and the arts discuss how traditions emerge and transform, as well as the process of transmission, how various disciplines conceptualize the process, and the importance of the process for understanding religions. They will also explore how far criticizing, rewriting and re-appropriating traditions promote innovation in the religious landscape.

The annual programme will continue with the discussion series “Tradition(s): interdisciplinary and transepochal”, in which researchers from philosophy, sociology, Protestant theology, law and history will enter into conversation with each other in the summer term of 2022. As part of the annual theme, results of an international research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation on the transmission of religious traditions in families in Europe and Canada will be presented to the public. Nobel Prize winner for literature, Olga Tokarczuk, and the Arabic scholar Sarah Stroumsa from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem will attend as Hans Blumenberg guest professors. (sca/vvm)