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Koselleck Project: Theorizing the Evolution of Religion

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Time and again, researchers within the sciences, social sciences, and humanities have focused on how religion emerged and developed in case studies. Approaches of different disciplines will now brought together to a theory of religious evolution by Prof Volkhard Krech of the Ruhr Universität Bochum. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has granted him a Reinhart Koselleck Project to fund his research for the next five years.

Bringing together Research Findings

In his project, Volkhard Krech builds up on his own research and the findings of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg ‘Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe’, which he has been directed for the last nine years. ‘It is time to bring the theories and empirical findings of the Kolleg’s research together in a more integral approach’, Mr Krech says.

For his theory of religious evolution he intends to combine approaches from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities alike. In order to reconstruct the historical development of religion without implying a progress, the concept of evolution is invoked. By relying on this concept and the differentiation between variation and selection, different forms of religion can be considered without abandoning a generic concept of religion and its options for comparisons, he argues. He will focus the internal development of religion without segregating it from the contexts of societal, physical, organic and mental evolution.

Online-Exchange during the Research

The project shall result in publishing a three volume publication both in German and English. Additionally, Volkhard Krech plans to discuss his theoretical contributions online with interested readers before publishing them in order to respond or even involve possible objections and arguments. Several international workshops are planned on a regular base to enable the fruitful exchange with researchers from different disciplines.

Reinhart Koselleck Projects
The Reinhart Koselleck Projects were designed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for out-standing researchers to give them the opportunity to conduct highly innovative projects that may fraught with risk. The name patron of this funding line is Reinhart Koselleck (d. 2006), one of the most renowned German historians of the 20th century, who was the founder of social history in Germany.

Text: Meike Drießen, translated by U. Plessentin

Press Contact: Ulf Plessentin