Research Centre "Religion and Transformation"
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Edition XVI / May 2020


Dear members and friends of RaT

Amidst unfamiliar circumstances we are reaching out to you with an update on our activities. As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic we had to either cancel or postpone all of our spring term events. Yet, our members have continued to pursue their research and their teaching activities from home. Thus, we are happy to present an overview of our recent publications and research projects as well as our third mission activities — including reflections upon the current crisis-situation.

From our homes to yours: we wish you an enjoyable read!


Lisa Achathaler, Jakob Deibl, Marlene Deibl, Martin Eleven, Daniel Kuran, Gerhard Langer, Katharina Limacher, Magdalena Sedmak, Margareta Wetchy,


CALL FOR PAPERS: "From Syncretism to Hybridity: Transformations in African-derived American Religions", edited by Hans Gerald Hödl and Bettina Schmidt

Many works have been published in the wide field of research on African derived religions in the Americas. Nevertheless, seldom is the whole spectrum (South America, Caribbean, USA and “exports” to other parts of the world) covered in one volume. Thus, we want to bring together the discourse on African-American Religions (Black Hebrews, Black Muslims, Hoodoo and Voodoo in the South, amongst others) with the discussion of African-derived religions like Candomblé, Santería, Haitian Vodou and so on.


Find detailed information on our website.


Handan Aksünger-Kizil: "Interreligious Dialogue in the Public Sphere. Challenges from an Alevi Perspective", in Anna Körs et al. (2020): "Religious Diversity and Interreligious Dialogue", pp. 265-278.

The edited volume “Religious Diversity and Interreligious Dialogue” brings special attention to interreligious dialogue and interfaith relations as precise means of dealing with plurality in Europe. It highlights the effects of religious pluralization on societal fields such as theology, politics, civil society, education, and communication/media.

Handan Aksünger-Kizil points out the different levels of interreligious dialogue and the challenges arising from an Alevi perspective in Hamburg (Germany).

Kurt Appel and Jakob Helmut Deibl (2019) (ed.): "Misericordia e Tenerezza. Il programma teologico di papa Francesco".


The edited volume brings together 27 theological contributions from all over the world - among them RaT-members - that reflect upon the significance and the impact of the pontificate of the current pontifex Francesco on Catholic theology but also society in general. Taking the apostolic exhortation "Evangelii gaudium" as starting point, the volume provides an insight into the universality and multivocality of the Catholic church.



The research centre RaT became cooperation partner of a new research project "YouBeOn - Young Believers Online. Mapping on- and offline identifications of urban religious youth" realized at the Austrian Academy of Science under the direction of RaT-member Astrid Mattes.

YouBeOn is an interdisciplinary, explorative research project interested in the conceptualization and visualization of on- and offline identifications of urban religious youth. The project asks how young religious people in superdiverse urban settings negotiate their multiple belonging on- and offline. It will use innovative methods and digital tools to answer this question.

The project launches in September 2020.

Learn more




In April 2020, the “Interdisciplinary research study group” at the University of Vienna has started a new project based on the full Data release of the European Values Study expected for autumn 2020.

Directed by RaT-Member Regina Polak, the project aims at the publication of an anthology, focused on the interpretation of the data on the relationship between "politics and religion". The close connection between religious and political values has been demonstrated by the EVS 2010 (and other international studies such as the PEW-Research Foundation), but so far has not yet been explored systematically on a threefold level: an empirical, interdisciplinary, and international one.



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RaT members contribute to public discourse by writing in newspapers, giving statements in television and podcasts, and by publishing on our blog.



On our blog, you will find contributions by RaT-members and affiliated scientists. Read an article from Jakob Deibl for Hölderin's 250th Birthday, Kurt Appels reflections on the practice of prayer or else Karsten Lehmanns observations from a stroll through the locked down city of Vienna.


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Regina Polak: (Post)Corona: Future is an open space.

Right after the outbreak of the Corina-Pandemic, intellectuals such as Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek, journalists, and soothsayers, started proclaiming their various visions of the future. In her contribution for “Die Furche” , Regina Polak reminds the reader that from a theological stance the future seems to be an open space. Thus, how it will be shaped, strongly depends on ethical decisions, particularly those made in the political realm.

Irene Klissenbauer: Maria 2.0 - Women demand Equality

"Without the work of women, churches would be empty!" From this premise originated the movment of "Maria 2.0" in the German town of Munster, May 2019. A year later, Irene Klissenbauer talks on Austrian Television ORF 2 about the importance and actuality of such a movement in Austria and why the role of women in the roman-catholic church is debated so vigorously.


Kurt Appel: A manifesto for looking toward the Young 

The current crisis does not only restrict our mobility but has also put a halt on our social and cultural life. In “Settimana News”, Kurt Appel looks at the situation in Italy and reflects upon the — mainly social and cultural — costs that the crisis holds — especially for young people. He urges for a politics that shows solidarity with the young to ensure their prospects for a fulfilling life, also for the generations to come.

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The global pandemic has raised an intensive and creative debate in Europe and around the globe, both on an intellectual and an academic level. Thus, the department for Practical Theology of the University of Vienna has started a (Post) Corona-Blog which reflects upon current developments and debates. Several RaT-members have contributed to it so far. The blog aims at identifying the theological contributions able to transform the Corona-Crisis into a lesson for religion, society, and eduction: e-learning, developing new religious practices and rituals within Christian communities, as well as spiritual questions about suffering or transforming the concept of God during the pandemic are discussed.


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Anna Maria Kontriner has been a cherished member of the RaT-Team from October 2018 until the end of March 2020. We have gotten to know Anna not only as an incredibly reliable and efficient co-worker, but also as a joy to be around due to her friendly nature. Anna left RaT to purpose her studies further. We will miss her humor and critical spirit. We thank Anna for her commitment to RaT and wish her all the best!


At the beginning of May Vera Margareta Wetchy joined the RaT-Team as assistant. She studied English and American Studies, Cultural and Social Anthropology and Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Vienna. During her exchange semester at the University of Nizwa, Oman, she fell in love with the country and its people and has visited the country numerous times since then. Apart from that, following social and political developments in the MENA region and in Europe has always been her main interest both on a professional and personal level.

We are happy to welcome her to the team!

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