Research Centre "Religion and Transformation"
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Edition XIX / December 2020


Dear members and friends of RaT,

With our second newsletter of this winter semester, we would like to inform you about our current activities. The work of the research centre continues to take its course and we are especially looking forward to the publication of the next issue of our journal JRAT 7 (2/2020) in December. This issue sheds light on interreligious dialogue activities in several European countries and is the result of a conference that was co-organised by the editor, Karsten Lehmann, and the research centre RaT last year. JRAT as well as further publications by our members are introduced below.

Despite the fact that we have all been working from our homes since early November, we did our best to complete a transformation process that has kept us busy for some time now. After intensive discussions and fruitful exchange with RaT members, we decided to establish eight research clusters that combine the expertise and interests of our members. These can now be found on our website and provide you with a clear overview over our research topics. 

After the terror attack in Vienna, media reports and public discussions showed the increasingly polarised discourse about religion in general and Islam in particular. In an attempt to contribute to a more objective and fact-based reporting, several of our members gave interviews in their areas of expertise and presented critical analyses of the incidents that unfolded during and after the attack. We are more than happy that our members contributed to - what Jakob Deibl termed - the search for a language of inclusion that breaks away from simplistic dualisms of good versus evil.

Finally, we would like to take the opportunity to invite you to read our newest blog entries where in times of limited face-to-face exchange, we try to initiate discussions and speak about topics that currently influence the work of our members.

Now more than ever, we wish you an enjoyable winter and

Happy Holidays!


Lisa Achathaler, Kurt Appel, Jakob Deibl, Marlene Deibl, Martin Eleven, Daniel Kuran, Katharina Limacher, Anna Schlechter, Margareta Wetchy. 


Please consider forwarding our newsletter to those interested in the topics we work on!



The newest issue of our Open-Access Journal JRAT will be published in mid-December:


JRAT 7 (2/2020): "Interreligious Dialogue in Context: A European Comparison", edited by Karsten Lehmann

The second issue of JRAT in 2020 brings together an international group of European experts on interreligious dialogue (IRD) to close one of the major gaps in present-day research on IRD. For the first time, the volume provides a systematic, empirical comparison of different 'national cultures' of IRD in Europe. The authors explore different IRD practices and discuss to what extent the respective approaches are shaped by socio-cultural contexts. Put together, these contributions form a basis for systematic considerations as well as a more concrete evaluation of the role IRD might play in education.

Access the newest issue here.

These are our current Calls for Papers for upcoming issues of JRAT:


"Religion and Disease", to be edited by Rüdiger Lohlker, and "From Syncretism to Hybridity: Transformations in African-derived American Religions", to be edited by Hans Gerald Hödl and Bettina Schmidt. We would like to cordially invite you to forward the calls to researchers interested in the topics!



Appel, Kurt/ Benanti, Paolo/Menozzi, Daniela/Morra, Stella/Sequeri, Pierangelo/Zani, Angelo Vincenzo (eds.): "Profezia di Francesco. Traiettore di un pontificato". Prefazione di Marcello Neri, EDB: Bologna 2020.

This book analyses the pontificate of Pope Francis and draws a preliminary balance. The following questions are explored: What has changed through Pope Francis? What marks will his pontificate leave behind? What necessary reforms is the Church faced with and how does Pope Francis approach these?

Holzleithner, Elisabeth: "Rechtsphilosophie. Einführung in die Rechtswissenschaften und ihre Methoden, Teil III", Wien: Manz'sche Verlags- und Universitätsbuchhandlung.

Link to the publication.



Hödl, Hans Gerald/Mattes, Astrid/Pokorny, Lukas (eds.): "Religion in Austria 5", Praesens.  

Religion in Austria fills a lacuna in the study of religion in Austria, providing detailed experts accounts on varied aspects of Austrian religious history and adjoining subjects, past and present. Based on original scholarship, this book series takes a Religious Studies perspective on the vast and largely uncharted domain of religion in Austria.

Link to the publication.

Klissenbauer, Irene: "Einsatz für Geschlechtergerechtigkeit aus religiöser Perspektive: Das Potenzial religiös-feministischen Online-Aktivismus", in: Strube, Sonja A./Perintfalvi, Rita/Hemet, Raphaela u.a. (Hg.), Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag, 2020.

Systematic attacks on gender justice get worse around the globe and have even been carried out by some EU governments. Such attacks question human rights and are, since they are mostly right-wing-populist and fundamentalist, a threat to democracy. From an international and interdisciplinary perspective, the contributors to this edited volume analyse anti-gendarism as a strategic means of emotionalisation, mobilisation, and connection between the right-wing spectrum and a rising religious right-wing movement.

Link to the publication.

Lohlker, Rüdiger: "Saudi Arabia in the Mirror of Saudi Cables".

One of the best resources for a thorough understanding of Saudi foreign policy is the Saudi Cables database at Wikileaks. This study is the first exploration into this rich trove of information almost ignored until now. The material selected for this volume provides e.g. evidence-based insight into the ways Wahhabi Islam is propagated all around the world.

Moga, Ioan: "Orthodoxe Selbst- und Fremdbilder", RaT series volume 18, Vienna University Press. 

This volume offers a theological-historical analysis of the orthodox-theological identity discourses in the Romanian-speaking area of the 20th century in view of the perception, assessment and recognition of the Roman Catholic Church. In summary, the author advocates for contingency-conscious hermeneutics in the history of Orthodox theology and for the historicisation of the different, still influential self-concepts of the Orthodox Church.

Link to the publication. 

Potz, Richard: "Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe. Austria", BRILL.

This volume of annotated legal documents on Islam in Europe covers Austria and consists of a collection of legal documents that affect the status of Islam and Muslims. The legal texts are published in German language while the annotations and additional materials are in English. Each legal text is preceded by an introduction describing the historical, political and legal circumstances of its adoption, plus a short paragraph summarising its content. The collection focuses on the religious dimensions of being a Muslim in Europe, i.e. on individuals’ access to practise their religious obligations and on the ability to organise and manifest their religious life.

Link to the publication.

Rothgangel, Martin: "Religious Education at Schools in Europe", Vienna University Press.

At a time when educational issues have increasingly come to determine the social and political discourse and major reforms of the education system are being discussed, and when migration has become a significant phenomenon, it is highly appropriate to focus on the concrete situation regarding religious education. This volume contains – again on the basis of thirteen key questions – the countries in Southeastern Europe. Beyond the all-important tasks of taking stock and making international comparisons, the aim of this book is to create a foundation for further action in the field of education, especially with regard to interfaith expertise. So far, 6 volumes have been published in this series.

Link to volume 5 and link to volume 6.

Synek, Eva: "In den orthodoxen Kirchenverfassungen vorgesehene Kollegialorgane auf Eparchialebene", in: S. Haering & W. Rees (Hrsg.), Iuris sacri pervestigatio. Festschrift für J. Hirnsperger, Berlin 2020.


Link to the publication.

Danz, Christian: "Jesus between Judaism and Christianity. Considerations on Christology in the Christian-Jewish Dialogue".

The article has been published on the website "Jewish-Christian Relations" and on "Compass".



Gligorić Miroljub: "Person – Logos – Being. A Depiction of the Ontological and Epistemological Terms in the Thought of Christos Yannaras", Herder: Freiburg i.Br. 2020.

The study focuses on key terms of the Greek philosopher and theologican Christos Yannaras (*1935). With a critical analysis of central thoughts of European self-conceptions such as personality, logicality of knowledge, being, freedom and social order, Yannaras suggests a possible way out of existing crises. He finds these invitations for reflection in the principles of thought and in the methodology of the Greek Fathers of the Church that he connects with contemporary impulses from Western thought to a remarkable synthesis.

Link to the publication.

Kubasiak, Piotr: "Between Existentialism and Politics. Europe and History in the Thought of Krzysztof Michalski", Grunewald Verlag.

In his dissertation, Piotr Kubasiak explores the work of one of the most important European intellectuals - Krysztof Michalski. Michalski is not only the founder of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), but his work was also paradigmatic especially for Western and Eastern European regions, for the transition between the secular-liberal and the Catholic world, and the areas in between. According to Kubasiak's thesis, Michalski's intellectual biography hints towards the question as to what intellectual Catholicism can achieve in contemporary Europe. Another question that the dissertation sought to answer was related to the historical-theological meaning of Europe for Christianity and the universal history as a whole. 

Link to the publication.


Project "YouBeOn"

On January 21, 2021, the research project "YouBeOn – mapping on- and offline identifications of urban religious youth" will kick off with a project presentation and a round table discussion of Vienna-based religious Instagrammers (6 to 8pm). Our guests will talk about their religious practices and how they relate to their social media use in terms of self-expression, identity and networking. Due to current circumstances, the event will be streamed. You will find more details as well as regular updates on the progress of the research project on the newly launched project website.

Workshop "Gesellschaftliche Erzeugung von Vielfalt"

As the first event of the research cooperation "Religion_Pluralität" by Anne Koch and Karsten Lehmann, a workshop is held on February 23, 2021 at PHDL Linz (or possibly online). The workshop focuses on the presentation and discussion of brief episodes on religious diversity in Austria. First ideas and concepts have already been drafted in the Journal 'Pädagogische Horizonte' (Issue 4, No.1, 2020). Anne Koch and Karsten Lehmann sincerely invite those interested in the topic to participate in the workshop.


Tillich Congress 2021

Under the subtitle "Discourses by Intellectuals in the Weimar Republic", the congress on Paul Tillich will take place between July 7-10, 2021 at the Technical University Dresden where he taught as a professor for Religious Studies between 1925 and 1929. The congress is organised in cooperation with the University of Vienna and the Hannah-Arendt-Institute for Totalitarism Research, among others. It focuses on the networks of intellectuals surrounding the theologian in the light of the disputes about the interpretational sovereignty of the Weimarer Republik. The full programme of the congress can be accessed here.


RaT has contributed to recent (online) events:

The lecture series “Judaism – Christianity – Islam: Inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives on interreligious dialogue in the Abrahamic religions”, organized by Regina Polak in cooperation with RaT, comprised several contributions from members of the research centre, such as Kurt Appel, Ioan Moga, Handan Aksünger-Kizil, Karsten Lehmann, Wolfram Reiss and Astrid Mattes.


As part of the lecture series “Politics and Religion”, organised by Sieglinde Rosenberger in cooperation with RaT, and at the invitation of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), Katharina Limacher and Sieglinde Rosenberger, together with Thomas Schmidinger, took part in a panel discussion on the topic “religion and political participation in the danube region”.




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




Voices by RaT Members on the Terror Attack in Vienna on Nov 2, 2020


On the occasion of the events in Vienna at the beginning of November, Rüdiger Lohlker has published several articles and interviews in various media channels, among them in Die Zeit, in Der Falter, in Der Standard, on the website of APA, in Frankenpost, in Deutschlandradio Kultur, in the Czech Magazine Voxpot, and in the Slovak newspaper Postoj

Jan-Heiner Tück published an article with the title "Attentat von Wien: Die Tötung Unschuldiger ist ein Anschlag auf Gott" that can be read here.

Sieglinde Rosenberger and Rainer Bauböck wrote about the "overwrought discourse" about Islam and the dangers of such discourse in Der Standard.



"Especially because using simple explanations and clear narratives of accusations immediately suggests itself in extreme situations like these, following the terror attacks yesterday, a differentiated perspective is necessary."


RaT members shared their thoughts on the terrorist attack in Vienna on our RaT Blog. Rüdiger Lohlker gives insight into jihadi subculture, Jakob Deibl analyses the language used in speeches by politicians and media in the days following the attack, and Katharina Limacher addresses the use of Social Media after events like these. 





"He was one of the most magic humans, literally a magician."


On the occasion of the death of the philospher of religion and scholar of religious studies Klaus Heinrich, Caroline Neubaur and Jakob Deibl have published a blog entry on their personal encounters with Heinrich himself and with his works.



"Is death the big 'nothing', the last God, or does death have a deeper meaning that is able to give significance?"


In the interview with Gabriele Palasciano published on our blog, Kurt Appel explores approaches, reactions and reflections of theology in times of Covid-19, and speaks about God and the meaning of history in our world.



"Will the project succeed in taking the unique ecumenical and interreligious opportunity to build high-level archictecture, or did the project undergo too many and too long processes of dispute and new compromises that the energies for truly establishing a campus with forward-looking, innovative design have already been spent?"


In August 2020, the draft for the "Campus of Religions" for the city expansion project in Vienna Seestadt was published. In his blog article, Jakob Deibl analyses how sacred buildings contribute and have contributed to the history of Vienna in city expansions and what role confessional and religious borders and their overcoming played during these expansions.





Media contributions on Paul Celan

On the occasion of Paul Celan's 100th birthday, Jan-Heiner Tück speaks about the works of the poet in ORF2 and in Deutschlandfunk. An article on the poet was also published on


Interview with Zukunft-Denken-Podcast

In the podcast titled "The translation movement, or: How ideas travel across time, cultures and languages", Rüdiger Lohlker talks about culture, ideas and (natural) science in the Islamic World between the 8th and 10th century.


Ö1 report 

In the Ö1 report "Praxis - Religion und Gesellschaft", Astrid Mattes talks about current criticism on the so-called "Islamgesetz".


Interview with Die Presse

Elisabeth Holzleithner speaks about why the constitution lacks 'dignity' in the interview with Die Presse.


Contribution to ORF Religion and in Salzburger Nachrichten

Rüdiger Lohlker talks about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in the ORF report titled "Geschichte der Muslimbrüder - Zwischen Islam und Politik". In Salzburger Nachrichten, he gave a brief insight into their history and their 'theology of exclusion'.


Interview and discussion

Irene Klissenbauer discussed the following topic with Peter G. Kirchschläger: "Artificial Intelligence - What comes after paid work?". The discussion took place within the framework of Theologische Kurse.


Contribution to Forum für Weltreligionen

Eva Synek wrote an article titled "For the life of this world - a new document for the social teaching of the Othodox Church".


Irene Klissenbauer gave a minilecture within the framework of the online conference "Resistance required?" and spoke about gender equality from a religious perspective and the potential of religious-feminist online activism.




Since January 2020, Prof. Elisabeth Holzleithner (Department of Legal Philosophy) is head of the research platform GAIN - Gender: Ambivalent In_Visibilities. We wish her all the best for this new position!

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