Global History of Christianity

Karte und Kompass

Global History of Christianity

Today, Christianity is generally understood as one of the great 'world religions'. This view differs significantly from older perceptions, according to which Christianity was considered the one, true religion, while other beliefs were considered heresy, idolatry or heathenism.

Recent historical research on religion has shown that the concept of world religion is not a quasi-natural form of human existence, but rather an idea that was only able to establish itself worldwide within the framework of European colonialism in the 19th century. In this epoch, inspired by the young study of religion in Europe and the USA, as well as by liberal theology, intellectuals in all contexts began to reformulate certain traditions of thought under a common, global understanding of (world) religion. This development set in motion a standardisation process that led to the various world religions, such as Hinduism, Islam or Christianity, becoming the comparable quantities they appear to us today.

The aim of this research area is to investigate the reconfiguration of the Christian religion in terms of the global concept of world religion from the 19th century onwards. The focus is on the global interconnections that shaped the Christian religion in the process of its repositioning – be it in relation to other religious actors, the newly forming university sciences or the (colonial) political actors of the globalising world. Using illustrative examples, these global negotiation processes are analysed in the various contexts that have led to the reformation and conceptual unification of Christian identity, historical understanding and theology.

The Mission of the Rhenish Missionary Society in Sumatra in Colonial Discourse

Lara Lindhorst

This project examines the history of the Rhenish Mission Society in Sumatra respectively the Toba-Batak region, beginning with the start of the mission in 1861 till the establishment of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan.

Weiße Kirche vor Meerlandschaft Sumatra

The discovery of Buddhism

Dr. Ulrich Harlass

The project focuses on the beginning and development of the scientific study of Buddhism, particularly in the 19th century, and the public discourse on Buddhism. Consequently, Buddhism is not regarded as a primordial entity that was simply ‘discovered’, but rather as a historic discourse in which Buddhism was constituted and continually negotiated against the backdrop of a globalizing world and the realities of colonial encounters.

Kiste voller alter Postkarten und Briefe
"Mapping Religionsiwssenschaft, vernetzen, vertiefen, sichtbar machen" dazu eine runde Karte mit Höhenlinien

Mapping Studies of Religion

Dr. Ulrich Harlass, Lara Lindhorst

The project ‘Mapping Studies of Religion’ arose from a collaboration between young academics from the Universities of Bonn, Bremen and Munich, and provided the impetus for mapping the field of Studies of Religion in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It combined a digital workshop format and video interviews with central representatives to connect researchers in the field.