Study Group "Civil Religion, Religion and the State in the 19th and 20th Centuries" (until 2012)

In the modern age, too, religion and politics are interwoven in multiple ways. New configurations of religion and politics developed in the wake of the Enlightenment and of epochal events such as the American or the French Revolution. The study group investigates their typical characteristics as well as the functions of traditional religion, civil religion and political religion and the effects they have on modern society. One thesis to be proven is based on the assumption that in order to create legitimacy and community, politics cannot go without religious language and images. In the formative process of a new political culture, the traditional, religiously shaped symbolic language remained in use and was often secularised and complemented by other traditions.

Particular attention will be paid to the role that religions played in the process of the emergence of national states and modern empires, and to the relationship between traditional religions, civil religions and political religions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Are theoretical explanatory propositions from political science, philosophy and sociology suitable as the basis of a historical or literary investigation of the bonds between religion and power in the (incipient) modern age? In addition to a joint reading of theoretical texts, case studies across different regimes and regions are to be discussed in the study group.