RUB » CERES » KHK » Research » Focus Groups (2011-2015) » Inclusion & Demarcation

Focus Group 'Inclusion & Demarcation'

The concept group ‘inclusion & demarcation” examined the functions of processes of inclusion and demarcation. Hence, processes of inclusion and demarcation can be understood as relational expressions of religious dynamics that derive emergently from the different dimensions of intra- and inter-religious contacts. In this regard, they feature the character of a thematic transversal to the thematic fields of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg. Especially important are the endogenous conditions and consequences of contact. For instance, it is the degree of densification of traditions that crucially determines the stabilizing interplay of ‘inclusion’ and ‘demarcation’ in regard to the contents.

Social structures and institutionalization processes

Basically, both religious semantics (ideas, conceptions, topoi) and those discourses based on them as well as religious operational and social arrangements are effected by these processes. Therefore, the KHK agreed upon a division of labor with regard to the two concept groups ‘transfer & resistance’ and ‘inclusion & exclusion’, insofar as the first was designed to concentrate more on the semantics and cognitive aspects of religious contact, while the second examined social structures and processes of institutionalization, thus focusing on the conditions and consequences of religious forms of contact.


In the first phase, the focus was thus generally on the social conditions and effects of alteration processes. Topics included conceptualizations of the notional twosome heresy and orthodoxy, processes of social structuring, secession, division, confession/denomination and confessionalisation, the formation of cults, the organization of membership and its hierarchization, contact-based models of proximity and distance, and finally the entire field of constitution and transformation from the formation of tradition to the formation of canons. As a first minor goal of the focus group's work, a ‘grammar of deviance’ was conceptualized based on the "Grammars of Identity/Alterity" by Gerd Baumann and André Gingrich, summarizing and structurally describing heterodoxy, heresy, superstition, idolatry, schism, etc. 



  • Baumann, Gerd, and André Gingrich, eds. Grammars of Identity/Alterity: A Structural Approach. New York: Berghahn 2004.
  • Berner, Ulrich. “Synkretismus – die Problematik der Grenzen zwischen und in den Religionen.” Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft 94 (2010): 31-41.
  • Leopold, Anita Maria, and Jeppe Sinding Jensen, eds. Syncretism in Religion: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Zürcher, Erik. “Buddhism in a Pre-Modern Bureaucratic Empire: The Chinese Experience.” In Studies in the History of Buddhism: Papers presented at the International Conference on the History of Buddhism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WIS, USA, August 19-21, 1976, ed. A. K. Narain (Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1980), 401-411.