Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Benjamin Bunk (Max-Weber-Center) receives Feodor Lynen's research fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

For the project "Education, Biography and Movement(s). Education processes in the landless movement and refuse collection initiatives in Brazil between personal reference and social conditions", Benjamin Bunk receives a Feodor Lynen research fellowship of 15 months by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The aim of the project is to further explore and to show the educational significance of social movements, following previous work. The project is part of the study of international movements and at the same time a contribution to the establishment of a new field in education science. The interdisciplinary approach of the project is fundamentally aimed at linking the theory of education and socialization theories by means of the methodological reconstruction of educational processes and biographies in movements. The project is initially located in a regional, Latin-American context. However, this also results from a post-colonial critique of the place and the tradition from which current knowledge production takes place - opening up the possibility of contrasting global with local phenomena and ways of thinking.

In essence, the research project examines the question of how subjects are formed in social movements. More precisely, how do self-relationships, world-understandings, and world-conditions transform and / or transform themselves into movements and to what extent does this play a role for the bio-graphic development? At the same time, it can be assumed that educational processes are different under conditions of change and that protest movements are therefore special socialization areas. Since, from a subject-centric perspective, personal relationship contrasted with movement varies and changes in the life-history as well as the social conditions for educational processes in movements differ. Research will focus on method-oriented case studies, related to ‘movement’, ‘movements’ and their regional embedding and a typology worked out. The main research target is the landless movement (Movimento dos Sem Terra, MST) as well as three local rubbish collector initiatives (Catadores de Papel, CdP) in Brazil.

As of June 2017, a research stay of 12 months in Brazil (host: Prof. Dr. Emil Sobottka) is planned, followed by up to three months in Finland (host: Prof. Dr. Teivo Teivainen). The project is integrated into the educational research network ‘Education and Social Movement’ and the Max Weber Center at the University of Erfurt and the interdisciplinary project ‘Local politicization of global norms’.

Marco Pasi presents a working paper on 'Nationalism, religious individualisation, and Western esotericism in modern Europe (1823-1939): an introduction'

This paper is the first draft of an introduction to the book I am currently working on, based on the research I am doing during my fellowship at the MWK. The book argues for the existence of a significant interplay between three distinct cultural and social phenomena in 19th and 20th -century Europe: nationalism, religious individualisation and Western esotericism. The examination and the interpretation of this interplay is based on the analysis of a number of case studies, taken from different periods and different countries. The present introduction has the purpose of introducing the main concepts and theoretical tools that the analysis will make use of. Due to space constraints, the present version does not discuss all the issues relevant for the project, but tackles only the most important ones. I will proceed first by introducing the three main concepts that feature as protagonists in this work, and I will then explore the way in which they can relate to each other. Finally, I will present the working hypothesis of the project and illustrate the way in which my work will proceed, i.e. through the analysis of a number of selected case studies. Due to space constraints, the present version does not discuss all the issues relevant for the project, but addresses only the most important ones.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Congratulation to Mikhail Khorkov who has given the Paper of the month of January!


30 Nov 2016

14 Dec 2016

16 Nov 2016

16 Nov 2016
3 Nov 2016

Congrats also to the others - as we can see, the MWK blog is becoming more and more popular around the world. With over 7.000 page views last month, the blog is further growing in its outreach with a particular strong presence in the US:

Valentino Gasparini presented a working paper on ''

The paper is part of the larger project on 'Isiacus. Embodiment, experience and communication in everyday Isiac cultic practice'

Because of a sort of unconscious cultural debt for dogmatic Protestant models, scholarship has often fallen in the trap of arbitrarily applying to ancient societies some modern interpretative categories which were later proven to be inadequate or even mystifying. Thus recent research (led by John Scheid) has finally rejected concepts like “belief” and “orthodoxy”, moving to the much more fruitful ones of “practice” and “orthopraxy” and showing that Graeco-Roman religion was not based on what it is now conceptualised as faith or creed, but rather on the scrupolous (sometimes nitpicking) compliance with regulations for the correct carrying out of rituals, which entailed the strict observance of interdictions and, in case of infraction, the payment of sanctions. Because of a parallel distorted historiographic paradigm (again built on Jewish/Christian bookrevealed religious traditions and canonical Catholic law), the idea of a Greek and (in particular) a Roman religion strongly focussed on a meticulous respect of ritual prescriptions generated the search for an original Sakralrecht and a related Ritualtext, that is a juridical corpus of laws based on some ancient libri sacerdotum and regulating, item by item, the constellation of different aspects linked to the religious praxis. But, as underlined by Laura Gawlinski, “leges sacrae was a category created in the nineteenth century as part of an effort to organize and make accessible the inscribed documents deemed most useful to scholars of the history of religion”. We cannot deny that religious specialists were regularly involved in political affairs (advicing magistrates in the case of ritual concerns) and that their consultations might be actually registered both in the priestly commentarii (e.g. of the Fratres Arvales) and in the official magistratual reports stored in the public archives. But the transmission of the ritual knowledge was basically operated orally, from one individual to the other, from one generation to the following, and there is no actual evidence supporting the idea of the existence of such unified written collections of laws. In Greece, the huge number of decrees dealing with ritual norms led to the construction of the histographical category ambiguously called “sacred laws” (hieroi nomoi), which has been strongly questioned during the last dozen years. In fact, the Greeks never distinguished it “as a category of rules separate from other laws, nor did they ever gather sacred laws together in any recognizable collection. Leges Sacrae is a modern category with no exact equivalent in ancient Greece”. Despite oracles and myths might be collected into books, and Orphic texts on papyrus rolls could be recited during the Dionysiac initiations, these texts can not be considered tout court “sacred books”. Nor the Romans did possess similar texts describing in detail origin and features of religious regulations or even a systematised corpus of religious jurisprudence (ius sacrum or divinum). This is why, as underlined by Scheid, Augustus himself had to ask lawyers and antiquarians to write down treatises on cultic institutions in order to bring to completion his religious restoration. In spite of the ancient presence of books of Sibylline Oracles, Etruscan libri fatales and libri pontificales, there was no Latin liber sacer or sanctus, and the very sporadic hints at “sacred books” in archaic or early Republican Rome are just mentioned by Greek authors, namely Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Plutarch. The latter significantly recalls that the corpse of Numa was buried in a sarcophagus on the Ianiculum, as well as the sacred books which he had written out with his own hand and taught orally to the priests. In plain words, an institutionalised religious norm fixed on written texts simply did not exist in the Graeco-Roman world.

Karin Neutel presents a working paper on 'Constructions of the Past in Recent Debates on Male Circumcision: How Paul Makes Circumcision History '

Male circumcision is a debated issue in many countries today, creating substantial social and political tension. Such tension has a long history: already in Antiquity, Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians clashed over male circumcision. These ancient controversies play a significant role in recent public discourse, where both advocates and opponents can build their arguments on particular interpretations of this religious past. The question of how participants in contemporary debates on male circumcision construct their arguments with reference to ancient circumcision controversies is central to this study. Answering this question will not only increase scholarly understanding of attitudes towards circumcision, but could also have a positive impact on the contemporary cultural dialogue on this divisive issue.
This article examines a number of references to the New Testament author Paul in recent German publications that discuss male circumcision. It offers an exploratory analysis, looking at the way in which these sources present Paul in relation to circumcision, and how they see his relevance for the present. Its goal is to develop an understanding of the competing constructions of the past that support contemporary view on circumcision, as well as on contemporary conceptions of Paul.
Since this is, for the most part, a first exploration of these sources, I would be interested to hear whether the analysis presented here is useful and which further questions could be asked. I would also welcome any contributions on its possible relevance, as well as comments about translation and interpretation.

Andrés Quero-Sánchez presents a paper on 'Meister Eckhart’s Rede von der armuot in the Netherlands: Ruusbroec’s Critique and Geert Grote’s Sermon on Poverty'

At the very beginning of his well-known interpretation of Meister Eckhart’s Sermon on Poverty in the first volume of Lectura Eckhardi, that is to say: of his interpretation of Eckhart’s German Sermon 52 according to the numeration by JOSEF QUINT, KURT FLASCH states: ‘This sermon is a beautiful one’. Although I myself do think that this text by Eckhart – which not only Valentin Weigel (d. 1588), Pelgrim Pullen (d. 1608), Jacob Boehme (d. 1624) and Angelus Silesius (d. 1677) but also Schelling (d. 1854) and even Nietzsche (d. 1900) knew and highly valued – is to be seen as one of the most important works in the history of German philosophy – or, maybe, Theology –, I do not think that FLASCH‘s assertion is a true one. Why not? I will answer this question in a moment, but let me first raise another question – the following one: Being, as it is, a particularly radical text, including some theses which are – or, at least, seem to be – especially unorthodox, how could it be that no sentence of this sermon was discussed in the context of Eckhart’s inquisition trial? For, as KURT RUH expressed , the inquisitors ‘could not have found a better text’ for their purposes. That is surely particularly right of the sentence that – to give you a well-known example – Nietzsche quotes in The Gay Science: ‘I pray God to liberate me from God’ (sô bite ich got, daz er mich quît mache gotes). For, as Eckhart in the continuation of the passage says, if God is rightly conceived, ‘I am then the cause of myself’ (sô bin ich mîn selbes sache). Some scholars, with EDMUND COLLEDGE and JACK C. MARLER leading the way, tried to find an explanation for this problem by stating that Eckhart had given that Sermon on Poverty in the last years of his life, as his inquisition trial was already ongoing: ‘The Sermon [on Poverty] was too late for it to be used against him’. However, I think that there is another, more natural explanation for that apparently incomprehensible fact. At the beginning of the text, Eckhart actually speaks not of a ‘Sermon’ but of a ‘rede’, that is, a ‘Speech’ or ‘Lecture’, by saying: ‘Now, I beg you to be so that you can understand dise rede [i.e. this Speech or Lecture]’ (Nû bite ich iuch, daz ir alsô sît, daz ir verstât dise rede). And at the end of the text, he says in a similar manner: ‘For as long as man has not become identical with truth, he will not understand dise rede [here again, this Speech or Lecture]’ (Wan alsô lange der mensche niht glîch enist dirre wârheit, sô lange ensol er dise rede niht verstân). Of course, one can understand the expression ‘rede’ that Eckhart is using here as meaning ‘that which I am saying in this sermon’, that is, as just meaning: ‘my words’: ‘I beg you’ thus ‘to be so that you can understand my words’. But I do not see any reason impeding from thinking that Eckhart is here rather describing the literary form he is using: this text is therefore not a ‘sermon’ but, as I said, a ‘speech’ or ‘lecture’, that is, a ‘discourse’, or an ‘address’. The technical term in Latin is ‘collatio’, meaning a sort of ‘talk’ that was not thought for a general public in the church or at the university, but to be delivered in private circles, in the case of this Speech on Poverty, or Rede von der armuot, surely to be delivered by Eckhart only – precisely because of the radicalism of the used formulations – in presence of his nearest disciples. We know some other Speeches, Discourses or Talks by Eckhart, namely his so-called Erfordian Reden, or – even – Talks on Instruction. JOSEF QUINT edited them as Eckhart’s Second Treatise, but instead they represent an anthology of ‘collationes’ that were – most probably – delivered and discussed in Eckhart’s convent in Erfurt, as the title in some extant manuscripts explicitly declares. This becomes particularly clear by comparing the beginning of the Talks on Instruction with that of the Book of the divine Consolation, which was undoubtedly published by Eckhart himself as a ‘Treatise’. The Talks on Instruction is surely not a work by Eckhart himself but rather an anthology of Eckhart‘s texts – of Eckhart’s collationes – published by some anonymous editor, most probably after Eckhart’s death. This is the reason why we do not find any sentence taken from that work among the articles discussed during Eckhart’s trial, neither in Cologne nor in Avignon. And this is also the explanation why Eckhart’s Speech on Poverty did not play any role in his trial: since it is not a Sermon, it had not yet been delivered by Eckhart at that time (ca. 1326–1329) in a public form or been published in book form, but it was only known to his nearest circle of disciples, who are responsible for the publication of this radical Speech, surely after the death of their master. Eckhart’s text on poverty is – maybe – beautiful, yet not a beautiful sermon.

Siddharth Sareen delivers a paper on 'Politics, procurement, bail-out and buy-in: Woes and ways for Rajasthan’s distribution sector'

What are the recent consequential developments and current issues in Rajasthan’s electricity distribution sector, which the state government has just bailed out of debt exceeding ten billion dollars? If political interference got it there despite sectoral unbundling in 2001, what measures are being instituted to safeguard against a repeat? As Rajasthan’s distribution companies turn to technology adoption, efficiency enhancement and loss reduction measures, this study offers an in-depth analysis of the sector’s stakeholders, capturing contrasting perspectives. Based on 30 expert interviews besides secondary research, it pries open the political economy of distribution in Rajasthan, spanning concerns of various consumer categories and providing insights into the roles played by a number of institutions, from the regulatory commission to the renewable energy nodal agency. The article bookmarks stakeholders’ expectations with regard to current developments on tariffs, renewable energy growth targets and compliance, the advent of competition and a franchisee model introducing private players in distribution, and demand-side efficiencies. It contributes an understanding of the current issues and concerns that characterise this sector at the state level. Prime among these are the continuation of an organisational culture that led to heavy indebtedness despite recurrent attempts to bolster efficiency, continuing political influence rather than the autonomous functioning of discoms, and an adverse configuration of incentives to ensure an adequate growth map for renewable energy despite high expectations from the state.

Arthur Bueno presents a working paper on 'Social Life Beneath the Organism: On Durkheim’s Two Conceptions of Anomie'

This text is part of a larger project which aims at exploring the social theoretical and normative foundations of the concept of social pathology, a central stake of which consists in examining the underlying conceptions of social life that underscore the different uses of that concept by classical and contemporary authors. Based on a discussion of Durkheim’s arguments in The Division of Labour in Society (1893), this paper reconstructs his early notion of anomie and its corresponding organicist conception of social life. The arguments presented in this text are to be further developed in another paper dedicated to the analysis of Durkheim’s Suicide (1897) and the modifications that the concept of anomie underwent in that work. The main intention is to demonstrate that the processual understanding of social life that can be found in the 1893 book – though in largely underdeveloped form – is affected by further restrictions in Suicide, in which Durkheim’s organicist conception of society is even more emphatically articulated in terms of a holist and reified social ontology. On the other hand, the concept of “general vitality” – which is already present in The Division of Labour in Society – comes to play a more significant role in the 1897 book, thus allowing for a reconstruction of the concept of anomie via the articulation of the processual social ontology outlined in 1893 with the notion of general vitality developed in both works. As an appendix to this text, I included an outline on the concept of “general vitality” as it was presented in The Division of Labour in Society, containing as well initial suggestions on how it might be articulated to the notion of “feeling of unity” discussed in the paper.

Based on a discussion of Durkheim’s The Division of Labour in Society (1893), this paper addresses his early notion of anomie and its underlying social ontological tensions. After addressing three manifestations of the state of anomie presented by Durkheim (1), I discuss the differences between Comte’s and Durkheim’s conceptions of this phenomenon, based on which it will possible to understand the latter as characterized by an approach that is both antinormativist and anti-juridicist (2). Durkheim’s perspective on the relation between social integration and normative regulation is then be analysed in greater detail, with special emphasis on two possible interpretations of such a transition, on the basis of either an organicist “ontology of things” or an “ontology of processes” (3). Furthermore, it is argued that Durkheim expresses a clear preference for the former, with significant and problematic consequences for his concept of anomie (4), which might be avoided if the latter is articulated on the basis of the processual ontology previously outlined (5). Finally, the paper explores the consequences of this alternative conception for the analysis of a central aspect of anomie: namely, the “mechanical” character assumed by social life and the loss of meaning associated with it (6).

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Petra Gümplová presents a working paper on 'This paper is a part of a larger project which aims at providing criteria for a critical appraisal of the international system of sovereign rights to natural resources and at elaboration of a conception which emphasizes limits on states’ rights to natural resources'

This paper is a part of a larger project which aims at providing criteria for a critical appraisal of the international system of sovereign rights to natural resources and at elaboration of a conception which emphasizes limits on states’ rights to natural resources.

In the paper Sovereignty, Human Rights, and Rights to Natural Resources I explore the historical affinity between international law of human rights and rights of states to natural resources and the aim of both systems to realize the international justice. The paper assumes a practice-based approach to human rights and argues that the chief purpose of human rights is to provide a universal standard for regulating the behavior of states, to limit their sovereignty for the sake of promoting welfare and protecting equal moral status of individuals. The key point of the paper is then to show that due to the historical co-originality and due to the transformative impact human rights have had on state sovereignty, international human rights law has direct implication for how we should interpret the scope of states’ rights to natural resources – regarding the scope of resource rights and the conditions of their rightful exercise by states as well as the model of the international system of natural resource governance.

Elena Borghi gives a paper on '“Unaided by men, they will discover their own strength”. Margaret Cousins, the Women’s Indian Association and the formulation of new gender norms in late-colonial India (1917-27)'

The paper is part of the project on which I am working as an ICAS fellow. The project is about Indian first-wave feminism, a tag designating the organised women’s movement which developed in the first decades of the 1900s. In particular, the project looks at the gendered norms and emotions governing the two main associations that constituted firstwave feminism in India—the Women’s Indian Association (1917) and the All-India Women’s Conference (1927).

The paper focuses on the experience of the Women’s Indian Association (WIA), the first pan-Indian women’s organisation and one of the main actors composing first-wave feminism in early-twentieth century India. The WIA was crucial in the propagation of anti-imperialist, nationalist stances, and often constructed such stances as the main goals behind women’s proactive participation in the world outside their homes. The WIA’s message depicted women’s subjugation as a metaphor of India’s political subjugation, and the improvement of women’s condition as a prerequisite for and a necessary step towards the country’s emancipation from colonial domination. It was mainly within this broader framework, therefore, that the WIA promoted women’s education and independent initiative. While historiography has tackled these aspects, other, more subtle contributions of firstwave feminism have been overlooked. The following pages point in that direction. They contain some preliminary considerations on the role of the WIA and the main driving force behind it, Margaret Cousins, in the construction of an alternative system of feeling and emotional climate, which the women participating in the movement were encouraged to espouse. The first section of the paper introduces Margaret Cousins. It sheds light on her thinking and life trajectory, on which she arguably grounded the understanding of gender roles and women’s position that informed the message of the WIA. The second section looks at the WIA as an organ trying to shape a community governed by a peculiar emotionology; and the last section sheds some light on the reception of the emotional norms spread by the WIA through the experiences of some of the women who engaged with the association in the very first phase of its existence.

Antje Linkenbach presents a working paper on 'Empathy and Dividuality – Connecting two Concepts and Fields of Research'

Background of the paper This paper is a first draft of a contribution to an edited volume titled Dividualizing the Self. The volume will also be an outcome of the work of the research group ‘Religious Individualization in Historical Perspective’, but intends to reverse and complement its focus on ‘individualization’. While most KFG-studies give evidence of individualization as a historically and geographically broad phenomenon, thus challenging standard theories of modernization, which regard (religious) individualization as a specific (early) modern and essentially Western or Christian phenomenon, the planned volume will contest the modernization narrative from a different angle. Taking up idea and concept of ‘dividuality’, extensively explored in anthropological literature, the volume aims to prove the relevance of the ‘dividual’ person also in western and non-western historical, early modern and modern contexts. ‘Dividuality’ will be used in the planned volume as an umbrella term, which allows to perceive the Self / the person as ‘open’ and ‘divisible’. Instead of constructing the Self /the person as a bounded, indivisible, possessive and autonomous entity, it highlights its relational qualities, thereby taking into account not only other persons, but also things / objects and ‘not unquestionably plausible’ agents/authorities (the transcendent, divine). Character of the paper This paper is highly explorative and moves between different disciplines, fully aware about possible risks of (mis)interpretation. Before publication this paper will undergo several rounds of discussion and revision, and will be presented at the final conference (Abschlusskonferenz of the KFG. Comments and suggestions are therefore greatly appreciated.

The paper makes an attempt to use the idea of dividuality, which brings the permeability, relationality and openness of an individual person into focus, to understand the human capacity to show empathy and compassion, and display vulnerability in the face of violence, suffering and death. My starting point is the anthropology of violence and pain, but to further pursue my argument I take up the concept of sympathy in selected philosophical texts from the 18th century, reflect on the differences between empathy and identification, explore empathy as resonance and finally, focus on the relation between autonomy, vulnerability and empathy.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Richard Gordon is presenting a workshop paper on 'Debating ancient magic'

The paper I offer for discussion here is to form part of the introduction to a collective volume incorporating the results of a research-programme at the University of Zaragoza, directed by Francisco Marco Simón, whose primary aim was to map the archaeology of magical practice in the western (Latin-speaking) Roman Empire. We aimed to collect all relevant archaeological data onto a data-base, part of whose purpose was to construct digitalised distribution-maps of different types of material. These data have also provided much of the empirical evidence required for the volume, which is devoted to the contexts of magical practice in the western Empire, temporal, topographic, physical, social. A subsidiary topic is the techniques used to enhance the authority of specifically literate magical texts. An earlier volume resulting from a conference held in Rome in November 2010, entitled Contesti magici/Contextos Mágicos, was a first, relatively informal, attempt at tackling some of the issues involved.[1]

Such an aim immediately raises a series of questions, of definition, scope and representativity, that we discuss in the introduction. What do we mean by magical activity (or, as the Spanish title has it, ‘magico-religious’ activity)? Can we define it coherently? In view of the debates of the 1960s and 70s on understanding alien belief-systems, can historians properly use the term ‘magic’ at all? What it is the price paid for such use? Can it be minimised and thereby made acceptable? Is it merely sleight of hand to concentrate on archaeological evidence, even if ‘archaeological’ here is used in a wide sense to include epigraphic, iconographic and even papyrological evidence? Can such material be meaningfully interpreted if literary evidence is largely excluded? What is the nature of that literary evidence? Its agendas? Does it matter, how much does it matter, if the archaeological evidence, by its very nature, can tell us nothing about many familiar types of magical practice, especially the practice of the very numerous, low-level specialists such as rhizotomoi/ herbarii, low-level manteis/harioli and their skills in divination, and those specialists, such as astrologers, that fell into the Roman category of ‘magicians’ but not ours?

[1] Piranomonte and Marco Simón (eds.) 2012.

Michael Rösser is going to present a paper on 'Forced Labour in German East Africa – Structural and Individual Continuities to WWI in Europe and Beyond'

As I have started to work on my Dissertation at the Max-Weber-Kolleg since December, this paper is a combination of my final thesis at the University of Regensburg, my exposé and provisional results of subsequent research. Scholars investigating forced labour policies at the occupied territories on the Eastern and Western front during WWI in Europe are divided on the issue whether German colonial policies provided an influential background for the issue. Analysing forced labour policies in former ‘German East Africa’ and Europe by means of the workers’ fundamental options to action (voice, exit) and their chances of survival, I try to illustrate structural similarities between forced labour policies in ‘German East Africa’ and the occupied territories in Europe during WWI (Poland, Lithuania and Belgium). Constructing infrastructural facilities in both East Africa and the occupied territories during WWI in Europe, continuities can be illustrated by means of the German companies Philipp Holzmann and MAN. Additionally, there are individual continuities not only by means of the companies’ personnel, but also by some former colonial administrators and advisors, who (probably) enacted forced labour policies in East Africa,

Roman Madzia presents a paper on 'The Humble Genius: On the Hand-made Mind and Material Culture'

The main goal of the paper will be to present and critically examine the functional importance of the human hand in the process of the development of characteristically human forms of intelligence and interactions with the world (giving rise to the phenomenon of material culture). This critical examination will be carried out mainly (but not exclusively) from the perspective of the philosophy of George H. Mead. This thinker was the first philosopher to have underlined the crucial importance of the physiological structure of the human hand for specifically human forms of i) perception of physical objects, ii) of intelligence, which in the end result enable iii) specifically human forms of reflective thinking which occurs by means of what Mead called ‘significant symbols’. In Mead’s opinion, tactual or haptic perception is essential to our notion of physical objects. He presents a developmental argument, according to which the visual or distance experience, is evolutionarily derivative of the so-called contact experience. The sense of touch gives us, therefore, at the same time a specific sense of the objective existence of the external reality. Subsequently, the paper will elucidate, how our ‘handed’ form of embodiment gives rise to the phenomenon of material culture, and in turn, how the material culture changes the human neuronal as well as social profile.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Mark Porter discusses 'Singing beyond territory: Hillsong and church planting in Oxford, UK'

In early 2014, after several years of thought and planning, Hillsong London planted a congregation in Oxford. The city is no stranger to church plants, whether by established congregations or from larger-scale networks seeking to make their presence felt in a key national hub. Recent plants within the city include Emmauel Church, which belongs to the reformed, charismatic, network New Frontiers International and St Ebbe’s Headington, a branch of its successful conservative evangelical namesake in the city center. The presence of Hillsong, however, brings particular challenges — the church’s reputation as a global brand combined with its tendency towards large congregations makes its disruptive capacity significantly more potent than smaller-scale undertakings. Indeed, the church’s strategy in the city has taken scale into account from the very beginning, with Sunday worship services only starting up once a group of people large enough to fulfil the expectations surrounding such events had been formed within other, less visible meetings. St. Aldates, currently one of the largest congregations in Oxford has, over recent years, increasingly draw on Hillsong’s musical output in order to establish its own musical identity and values whilst also sharing a similar charismatic evangelical theology to Hillsong. At the same time, members of the church will sometimes make the trip to Hillsong London in order to benefit from experience of worship there and to supplement their regular attendance of their Oxford congregation. The elements of similarity and the existing connections between the two congregations mean that Hillsong’s arrival in Oxford raises a number of questions: What does the church’s arrival in Oxford mean for St. Aldates’ identity and role in the Oxford church landscape? How do the churches interact? How do they occupy and differentiate themselves within a common space? How do worshippers move between the different congregations? Whilst the international flow of Hillsong’s music and brand has been long established, how are existing patterns affirmed or disrupted when such movements take more concrete ecclesiastical form? This chapter examines the relationship between the two congregations and their interaction as part of the local city scene.

Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt gives a paper on 'Religion and rationality – transcendence and freedom: About the anthropological and cultural key role of religion'

The research project will look into the reformulation of issues of normativity against the backdrop of Kant´s critique of Metaphysics. In the wake of this turn, it is no longer the general but the individual that informs the search of normativity. In this search, certainty („Gewissheit“) plays a crucial role as pursued by Luther as the specific experience of conscience and as being further developed by Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard in their debate on theoretical and critical aspects of modern subjectivity. In this context, individuality reveals itself as singularity, consolidated through a religious experience originating from a reference to transcendence. These reflections are part of a major project on ethics, aiming to establish normativity on legitimate grounds (ethics of „new realism“).

Hannah Peaceman presents a workshop paper on 'the impossibility of Jewish-Germany unity: Negative dialectic as method of its development'

This project aims to tackle the universality, secularity and practice of Jewish Political Philosophy in the 19th century and until the Shoah. Reference-points are Jewish-German perspectives that were involved in political debates until the Shoah. They have not been systematically accounted on since then from a philosophical perspective. The focus lies around the debates on the “Jewish Question”. Jewish perspectives provided important ideas on political emancipation and societal alternatives in the 19th century