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Fellow Vortrag


Abstract: István Czachesz

It has been argued that religion plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of identities and social boundaries (e.g., Esler, Krämer et al, Lévinas, Lieu, Schremer). However, it remains unclear how this exactly happens and what roles different social, psychological, and ecological factors play in the process. This paper addresses some of the relevant theoretical issues from evolutionary psychology, social psychology, and dual inheritance theory. In particular, I will make a distinction between “emergent identity,” on the one hand, which is the result of bottom-up socio-cognitive process, and “manufactured identity,” on the other hand, which results from a top-down process, appropriating discourses and categories invented by religious experts and literate elites. It remains to be understood how these two processes interact and how far the resulting identities represent mergers of the respective cognitive schemata. The goal of these considerations is to explain the involvement of non-elite and elite (as well as “lay” and “expert”) roles in religious identity formation, with special attention to Near Eastern and Mediterranean Antiquity.


  • Michael Willis: From Relics to Rice: Early Buddhism and the Buddhist Landscape of Central India.
  • István Czachesz: Religious Beliefs As Symbolic Identity Markers: Some Theoretical Considerations.