Empirical Research and Theories of Religion

Hände mit Ringen

The research area is dedicated to qualitative socio-empirical research into contemporary religious cultures. This entails dealing with specific religious people, groups and movements and their actions in the context of today's 'super-diverse' and/or 'post-migrant' societies. Currently, the following regions are under investigation: Germany, Europe, USA, India, Israel, Palestine and Turkey. We are interested in processes of institutional consolidation or of the dissolution of boundaries, for example between religion, health and lifestyle or between religion and politics.

Against this background, we analyse processes and discourses of how people shape, reconsider and change their religious identities. Our interest is how they draw or contest boundaries between religious groups and individuums. This also includes conflict, radicalisation and violence, on the one hand, and religious pluralisation and secularisation, on the other.

Based on empirical observations, we make theoretical contributions to the study of religion. Rather than essentialising religion as a special form of belief-system we consider religion as a social praxis formation. The main focus is on reconstructing and deconstructing current constellations of the people’s lived reality of religious plurality, as well as on the relationship between religion and secularity.

Current Research Projects

Raum mit Bildschirm und Stühlen

Surviving the mega-city

Dr Iliyana Angelova

The project explores the role of religion in shaping the identity constructions of minority Christian migrants in the mega-city of New Delhi (India), the various strategies and aspirations that inform the religious choices that these migrants make in the mega-city and the ways in which this is intertwined with their negotiations of everyday marginality and exclusion.

Yoga Plakat

Post-secular Yoga

PD Dr. Beatrix Hauser

This research project looks at the mutual influences of health-seeking behaviour and spiritual aspirations in the present post-secular age, focusing on yoga as a physical movement practice and considering case studies from Germany and, partially, India.

Sehr junge Braut mit Bräutigam

Intersections of Religion, Gender, and the State.

Dr. Petra Klug

The project addresses the practice of early or forced marriages in different religious communities in Germany and the United States, as for example in conservative Islam, among evangelical Christians, and orthodox Jews.


Bridging the Divide?

Anne Kauhanen

The goal of my dissertation is to research the movements and experiences beyond the ideologically polarized and hardened fronts in Mitrovica and to highlight these insights - against the narrative of Mitrovica only being a city and space of conflict.

Frühstück, Medienobjekte

Negotiations of the self on Muslim online platforms

Rosa Lütge

The project focuses on Muslim online platforms that create a space for exchange about lifestyle, empowerment and inspiration. The aim is to examine the representations of the self and the intersectional negotiations of religion, emotions and gender but also subversions that emerge in Muslim online platforms.


Between Mind and Subtle Body

Raphael Mousa

This project examines socio-cultural dynamics in the negotiation and transformation of concepts and practices between yoga and psychology. The focus is on the young hybrid discipline of yoga-psychotherapy, which is analyzed through ethnographic research in Germany and India.


Self-Normalization in (Neo-)Charismatic Evangelical Community Centers

EJ Tolksdorf

The ethnographic study takes a look at three free Christian community centers in south-west Germany. On the basis of these, the meaning of and approaches to manifestation practice - bodily-emotional Christian practice understood from an emic perspective as a visible or tangible experience with supernatural forces - are examined.