The church played an important role since its establishment, not only in spiritual way, but, as Christianity quickly became a state religion, it has affected politics as well. Similar was the course of Islam. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to explore the fascinating and turbulent relationship between those social actors, as a means of critical analysis of the comparative history of religion.

Particularly during and after the process of growing secularization in the Western world we shall analyse how both states and state institutions and the church have been impacted by the aforementioned trend towards a secular society.

Even though the concept of ‘church’ often refers to Christianity and its most important institution, the workshop will explicitly give participants the opportunity and strongly encourage them to discuss topics and ideas from every religion and its relationship to the state that they wish.

Possibilities of examinations in the workshop project include e. g. the study of actors, structures and spaces playing a role in the dynamics of the multiple and complex intertwinings of church and state at a given point in time or throughout centuries. Furthermore, the effects of religious concepts and teachings on political life will also be of crucial importance. Consider for example the existence and influence of religious political parties – in some countries or periods more explicit than in others – in a multitude of different contexts.  

Also, there is a high relevance of the topic of how governments, institutions and politicians understand religion (from completely laic states to nations where religion is the basis of the juridical, political and social order), with a crucial discursive relevance of institutions that are both public and religious. In general, the attitudes of citizens or other social actors – for example the economy – will be studied, with the workshop hoping to draw input from participants through a broad variety of different examples and different socio-cultural contexts.

Last but not least, we would like to encourage participants to think about the various controversies and instances of episodic or structural struggles for supremacy between religious and temporal powers, with the so-called ‘Insvestiture Controversy’ (1076-1122) as only the perhaps most notable example.

All in all, we hope to hear a diverse set of topics and examples from participants and work towards a constructive and fruitful critique of the political economy of religion, state and history as well as a comparative appraisal of the political history of religion approach.

Workshop-leaders:Dario Prati (ISHA Berlin), László Ambrus (ISHA Eger)