International Hybrid Conference »Religious Transformations in Europe: Individual Life Paths between Secularism and (New) Religiosity in the 19th Century«

Stefanie Mainz's picture
October 13, 2021 to October 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Cultural History / Studies, German History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies

The international conference »Religious Transformations in Europe« will focus on individuals who, in the course of their lives, turned away from their religious communities of origin and toward other groups or sought to re- and transform their communities of origin from within. The conference understands such processes as phenomena of transi-tion and border crossing. It wants to make clear that secularization and religiosity are by no means mutually exclusive, but that they are interwoven in many ways in the perspective of the course of individual lives. The conference assumes with Detlef Pollack that »re-ligion has a high shaping power even under modern conditions, is compatible with modernity and is itself capable of becoming a source of modernity« (Pollack, 2016, 6). In this respect, secularization can be understood as »the transformation and the continued effect of originally religious motives and meaning outside of the religious realm in the narrow sense« (Nüchtern 1998, 51). The lectures of the conference ask to what extent these moments of transition and bordercrossing are to be understood as consequences or ex-pressions of »secularization«, as transformations of the religious, or as manifestations of »new« religiosity.
The period under investigation covers the long 19th century as an age in which expressions of the religious and religious attachment changed more profoundly and continuously than ever before. This transformation of the religious can be seen as a fundamental process for the formation of modern European societies. Not only a »diffusive Christianity« (Wolffe 1994, 92f) is emerging, but also new forms of non-church-bound religiosity, both in Christianity and in Judaism and Islam. This pluralization of religion and religiosity in European societies has been described as a »constant expansion of the universe of religion« (Nowak 1995, 11). At the same time, the social role of religion, especially its public visibility, and the function of the Christian churches as its institutional bearers increasingly receded, partly due to industrialization, the success of the natural sciences, the emergence of nationstates (Nowak 1995, Nipperdey 1994), and migratory movements. This led to the fact that in the 19th century »the secular and the religious [...] were publicly nego-tiated for the first time at all«, the secular was »conceived as a sphere beyond the reli-gious« (Habermas 2019, 148) and the boundaries between these spheres had to be rene-gotiated again and again.
The conference follows up on these findings and attempts to trace the processes of secularization and revitalization of the religious in their interaction on the microlevel, namely on the basis of individual life courses. This is based on an understanding of secularization that dynamically relates the religious and the secular to each other (cf. Habermas 2019, 147f.) and understands »secularization« not as a unilinear and uniform process, but as one that takes place in different modes and different mechanisms. Helpful is the systematization developed by Charles Taylor, according to which »secular« manifests itself in three phases and types (Taylor, 2007, 377-422): 1. in increasingly secularized public spaces, 2. in decreasing faith and faith practices, 3. in changing conditions of faith and religiosity.



13 October 2021

Irene Dingel (Mainz) / Cristiana Facchini (Bologna) / Alessandro Grazi (Mainz)
Greetings of the director and Introduction to the conference theme

Panel 1: In search of a true religion: authentic vs universal
Chair: Cristiana Facchini (Bologna)

Alberto Scigliano (Como)
Joseph Salvador’s Mosaism: a universal religion (online)

Roberto Alciati (Florence)
In search of true Christianity: the case of Baldassarre Labanca (1829–1913) (online)

18:00–19:30 Keynote lecture
Ruth Harris (Oxford)
Guru to the world: India and the transformation of Western spirituality in the age of imperialism

14 October 2021

Panel 2: Renewal and reform from within and from without
Chair: Alessandro Grazi (Mainz)

Ivan Builiankou (Leipzig)
Individual rhetoric systems under the influence of modernization processes (based on the discussions for Patriarchate’s renovation on Local Council of Russian Orthodox Church 1917–1918)

Asher Salah (Jerusalem)
Religious redemption through Jewish hatred: the radical reform project of Rabbi Daniele Pergola

Manfred Sing (Freiburg/Mainz)
The elusive religiosity of ‘Arab Nahda’ thinkers in the long 19th century

Panel 3: Religious transformations and power: individual, authority, and the state
Chair: Stanislau Paulau (Mainz)

Stefanie Coché (Cologne/Giessen)
Jiggling quests for individualism, authority, rationality and emotion during the Second Great Awakening: Orestes Brownson and Charles Finney and the transformation of American religion in the 19th century

Noemie Duhaut (Graz/Mainz)
Adolphe Crémieux, a secular preacher for justice (online)

Panel 4: Arts and Science as paths towards secularization (1)
Chair: Esther Möller (Munich/Mainz)

Irene Zwiep (Amsterdam)
Moritz Steinschneider‘s (in)visible Judentum

Caterina Bori (Bologna)
Individual secularizing trajectories in early 20th century Egypt: Muḥammad Luṭfī Jumʿa’s (1886-1953), his Memories and Preface to the Prince

Viktoryia Sukovata (Kharkiv)
The Jewish dancer Ida Rubinstein as an image of religious secularizing at the turn of the 20th century (online)

Panel 5: Arts and Science and paths towards secularization (2)
Chair: Cristiana Facchini (Bologna)

Viktoriya Ivashchenko (Kharkiv)
Religious vs scientific: the worldview problems in the autobiographies of Russian scientists in the 19th and early 20th centuries (online)

Christina Schröer (Bonn)
From scientific knowledge to secular confession - German and French scholars as actors and instruments in the religious transformation of the 19th century

15 October 2021

Panel 6: Different facets of secularizing cultures: from anticlericalism to socialism
Chair: Alessandro Grazi

Fulvio Conti (Florence)
From priesthood to anticlericalism. Atto Vannucci and Ausonio Franchi in 19th-century Italy (online)

Marta Baranowska (Toruń)
Roman Dmowski's concept of national ethics. Some remarks on the concept of power and secularization in Poland at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (online)

Conclusive lecture: a look at the present
Chair: Alessandro Grazi

Giuseppe Veltri (Hamburg)
Technic, secular and individual religiosity of the 21st century
Cristiana Facchini (Bologna) / Alessandro Grazi (Mainz)
Final greetings

Registration via Cisco Webex (App or Browser):

13 October 2021:

14 October 2021:

15 October 2021:

Contact Info: 

Dr. Alessandro Grazi, Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) Mainz, Germany  

Contact Email: