Université de Strasbourg

(Re)thinking religious in the plural

(Re)thinking religious in the plural : towards a new anthropological history of the forms and dynamics of religion

USIAS Fellow: Lionel Obadia

This program aims at a critical historiography of the concepts and models of the study of religion, on the basis of a trans-historical and trans-cultural comparison between France, Europe, and other places of investigation, where the religious forms offer empirical information for the scholarly reflection. The examination of forms and reasons of the diversity of beliefs and practices, as well as their targets, is not possible without a parallel analysis of the variations of meanings associated to the term « diversity », of social, cultural, historical and religious contexts in which it is embedded and of the ideological trends and political frame allowing religious diversity to expand – or not. In such a perspective, the word “diversity” is considered, by excess or by default, as a key concept for understanding the historical transformations of religions, from Antique to Modern times.  By extension, it engages a revision of teleological contemporary models of “diversification” of the religious landscape. On the basis of a study of the local – regional forms of religious traditions, and from a broader comparative viewpoint, it aims at revising the location and the role of diversity in shaping the forms of religion in the course of history, and in history of religion.  This leads not only to an epistemological reassessment of the ideas of “diverse” and “diversification” of the religious landscape, but furthermore questions the relevance of the theory of a modern religious diversity, and ultimately the ontology of semantic category of “diversity” itself.

France 2030