5 Days, 2 Workshops, 29 Experts
Almost at the end of winter term, Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Dynamics in the History of Religions" invited renowned experts from all over the world for two workshops. Even if the focus of the two events differed in time and geografical space, both dealt with religious contact and its effects. For that purpose, 29 experts of varying academic fields came to Bochum, from as far as Australia, Sibiria or the Mid West of the USA.
As a start, the workshop "Traditional Religions, Secularism, and Revivals" was held last Friday and Saturday. Organised by current KHK Visiting Research Fellow Ivan Sablin, the workshop was dedicated to the contact between Buddhism, Schamanism and non-religious ideologies to be found in the vast areas between Tibet and Siberia. All participants, however, made clear in their presentations that both secularism as well as religion are concept that derived from a European background deply rooted within the Western history of ideas. Thus, they are only insufficient if not inadequate concepts for describing Buddhism and Shamanism alike. However, as history shows, both concepts were applied - or forcefully implemented e.g. by the Russian state - as selfdescriptions in the 20th and 21st centuries. This may haved effected a changing social structure of religious groups as well as the rise of newly shaped religious and homogeneous identities - tendencies especially used by Buddhist, while Shamanism became more and more societal marginialised.
The second workshop looked at the European history of ideas of early modern times. Entitled "Holy Affections and Religious Entanglements in Early Modern Europe" it focused the role of religious emotions in different discourses of that era. The starting point for this special topic was the observation that despite their religious and confessional differences, religious scholars of various backgrounds attested religious emotions a special quality, morally outstanding in comparison to other kinds of feelings. The workshop was organised and headed by Knut Stünkel (KHK post-doc) and Giovanni Tarantino (KHK Visiting Research Fellow). The papers presented shed light on the religious contacts of the early period of colonialism, especially the case of New-France on the North American continent as well as of the Indonesian archipelago. Colonialist with differing religious confession encountered indigenous people with often unknown religious and ritual traditions. Additionally, the contact of theologians and the rising circles of early Enlightenment Freethinkers was also picked out as a topic. Given these inter- and extra-religious contacts, the presenters illustrated that religious emotions are part of a negotiation process and may form anew during new encounters.