RaT at the European Academy of Religion, Bologna 2019

In March 2019 RaT contributed to the annual meeting (04.-07.03.2019) of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe). Overall, five members and junior researchers of RaT presented papers at the conference – thereby also representing the highest number of contributors from the University of Vienna at the conference. RaT was present when the foundation of the EuARe was discussed in 2016, and also at the so called Zero Conference in 2017 when the concept of the conference was tested for the first time. In 2018, RaT launched a panel during the first conference of the EuARe entitled “The Future of the Grand European Narratives. Political, Theological and Philosophical Considerations”.

The Research Centre itself was presented by its speaker Kurt Appel at the Roundtable “Fostering the Public Understanding of Religion in Europe” (04.03.) chaired by the president of the European Academy of Religion Jocelyne Cesari who is part of RaT’s newly established Scientific Advisory Board. At the roundtable RaT engaged in discussion with representatives of other European research centres like Perry Schmidt-Leukel (Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, Münster). The roundtable addressed several current topics like the role of religious education in different European countries, but also the relation between academic research on religion and journalism of religion.

Kurt Appel also joined the “Author meets Critique” Session and discussed Paolo Costa’s new book The Post-Secular City: The New Secularization Debate. In his book published by Queriniana 2019 Costa (research fellow at RaT in 2017) delivers a deep analysis of the concept of “secularization” and the history of de-constructions and constructions of the secularization theorem.  

RaT-member Karl Baier gave a talk on “The Christian Reception of Mindfulness Practice” within the panel “Interreligious Spirituality: The Role of Mediation” (05.03.). In his contribution, Baier analyzed aspects of the mindfulness boom in the West and took a closer look at attempts to integrate mindfulness into Christian spirituality.

RaT also organized the panel “The Alternative as the Real: Canon, Translation, and ’Alternative’ Histories of Salvation” which was chaired by Stephan van Erp (KU Leuven). The panel took up the topic RaT presented at the last conference of the EuARe sharing with it the focus on narrations and narrative structures we encounter in religion and contemporary society as well as in philosophy. The panel put forth the thesis that Christian theology and the Biblical canon subvert a naïve distinction between fictious and non-fictious narratives. The canon is not a mere description of facts but rather a complex counter-narrative that discloses history as an alternative reality and an eschatological future. Especially the concept of a “history of salvation” is only accessible in a history of interpretation and translation, which always requires careful tools of disarmament of concepts, methods and narratives. The contributors of the panel were Kurt Appel (Vienna), Jakob Deibl (Rome), Daniel Kuran (Vienna), Marlene Deibl (Vienna), Jacob Benjamins (Leuven) and Stephan van Erp (Leuven).