Research Centre "Religion and Transformation"
Link to the web version
Edition XXII / July 2021


Dear members and friends of RaT,


The obligatory heatwave has now arrived in Vienna. Whether it is cooling down with the help of ice cubes, bringing along a wet towel, or holding team meetings at a "Heuriger" - one has to get creative.


Braving the elements, our members have been conducting and publishing their research as well as planning events for the autumn term.


Before the summer break, we would thus like to report in this newsletter on new publications, current research projects and upcoming events of RaT members. We also have the pleasure to introduce you to a new member of the research centre!


Further down in this issue, we are pleased to present our latest blog contributions to you: let yourself be guided through a museum visit and learn about the removal of the pandemic from public space that set in during the fourth shutdown.

We wish you a pleasant reading as well as joyful summer holidays! 


Lisa Achathaler, Kurt Appel, Hannah Bleckenwegner, Jakob Deibl, Marlene Deibl, Martin Eleven, Daniel Kuran, Katharina Limacher, Marian Weingartshofer. 


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



New issue "Religion and the Sense of Law"

- edited by Stefan Hammer & Jakob Deibl


The issue reflects on concepts of law determined or impacted by various currents of Abrahamitic religious traditions. Major alternative approaches regarding the status of revelation as a source of law are being addressed. Two basic types of religious approach can be distinguished: one embracing the idea of divine revelation containing prescrip-tions which are to be connected to and implemented in human legal and political reasoning, and another one absconding the divine from earthly political and legal paradigms in order to permeate them with relativizing spirituality. The various con-tributions explore the historical development of relevant strands of religious thought as well as the way in which they articulate themselves in the present-day diversity of a secularized and globalized environment.


To be published in July.

For further information on JRAT, you can find our new page on facts and figures here.


Danz, Christian: Ethics. In: Walter Homolka/ Rainer Kampling/Amy-Jill Levine/Christoph Markschies/Peter Schäfer/Martin Thurner (eds.): Encyclopedia of Jewish-Christian Relations Online. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2019.


Jewish - Christian relations can look back on more than half a century of striking achievements. There are now initiatives and centers all over the world addressing fundamental issues. The time has come for a comprehensive Encyclopedia of Jewish - Christian Relations. International experts at the cutting edge of their discipline summarize in two hundred entries more than two thousand years of Jewish - Christian interaction, assess the achievements of dialogue and provide joint perspectives and new avenues for the future.


Link to the publication.

Holzleithner, Elisabeth: Shklar versus Schmitt. In: Anne Siegetsleitner/Andreas Oberprantacher/Marie-Luisa Frick/Ulrich Metschl (eds.): Crisis and Critique: Philosophical Analysis and Current Events. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2021, pp. 79-100.


In her oeuvre, Judith N. Shklar vehemently deals with the abysses of the human character. What people can do to one another, particularly by exercising state power, is terrifying, and this is exactly the foundation of her model of a liberal state. Carl Schmitt’s image of humanity is at least as sinister, but he draws completely different conclusions. The paper at hand looks into the premises and political anthropologies of the two authors. It tries to elicit at which junctions they take different paths and prompts the question how plausible these conflicting paths of thought are.


Link to the publication.

Kallhoff, Angela/Schulte-Umberg, Thomas: Climate Justice and Climate Conflicts as a Security Policy Challenge in the 21st Century, in: Ethics and Armed Forces (01/2021): Climate Change  as a Threat Multiplier.

Climate change is a reality. Today, the consequences of climate change are not only already visible everywhere, they are also increasingly perceived as a threat to the stability of the political order. However, it is clear too that states can only react to climate conflicts by means of security policy if elementary demands for “climate justice” are taken into account. These include justified demands for compensation and duties to assist vulnerable states, and also involve questions of causation and responsibility. This article attempts to build a bridge between climate justice and security policy.


Link to the publication.


Lohlker, Rüdiger: Zwischen Wienerwald und Moslemkutten: (Alp-)Träumereien eines weißen Mitteleuropäers. Berlin: Logos Verlag 2021.


Based on the diary of a person who died in 2019, this study analyzes the deep structure of the sub-consciousness of a white European man, showing the specific hierarchical worldview of this person feeling threatened by Muslims, Arabs, Chinese, 'Indians', etc. and giving insights into a hyperconsumist way of living religion.

To be published in July 2021.


Lohlker, Rüdiger: 'Abd al-Karim al-Jili and the Praxis of Hadith, in: Ulumuna 25i (2021).


The article provides a study of the use of Hadith in the works of al-Jīlī, the author of, e. g., al-Insān al-kāmil. The article provides a fresh look at the use of Hadith in pre-modern Sufi writings. Esp. al-Kahf al-raqīm, a less studied work of al-Jīlī, is analyzed. The study will help to have a more precise analysis of Hadith in premodern times among Sufis. The study is not focused on the criticism of the way Sufis use Hadith by Hadith scholars. It is a reconstruction of one aspect of the thought and works of al-Jīlī as an exponent of the later school of wahdat al-wujūd. Thus, it widens the field of Hadith studies to other approaches than those shared by Hadith scholars. It is the praxis of Hadith in Sufi writings that can be studied this way and has no claims for authority.


To be published soon.



 Young Believers Online

Public Mid-Term Workshop

16 September 2021

The YouBeOn research project, in which RaT is a cooperation partner, celebrates its first anniversary with a public symposium on 16 September 2021 from 1 pm in the main building of the University of Vienna (Dekanatssaal der KTF, Stiege 8). After an online kickoff, we are pleased to hold the YouBeOn Mid-Term Workshop in person.  We have invited the members of our Scientific Advisory Board to Vienna and are looking forward to an afternoon of inputs from and discussions with renowned experts from different fields of research on religion, youth and social media. If you want to attend, please register at as places are limited.

More information can be found here.

"The True, the Good, and the Beautiful"

XXV. Congress of the German Society for Philosophy
5 – 8 September 2021

Prof. Johann Schelkshorn is in charge of the section on Philosophy in the Latin American World, as well as giving a lecture on "Intercultural philosophy as a global discourse on modernity".

More information can be found here.


ÖGGF Conference 2021

20 – 22 September 2021

The conference is organised as a cooperation of the GAIN research platform with the Gender Research Department of the University of Vienna and the Austrian Gender Research Society (ÖGGF).

More information can be found here.


Habermas Congress: "A History of Philosophy"

22 – 24 September 2021, online

The conference will focus on Habermas' most recent opus magnum "A History of Philosophy" (2019). The contributions of the invited speakers will deal on the one hand with the main chapters of the book, and on the other hand with the overall conception.

Speakers: Adela Cortina, Gerardo Cunico, Maximilian Forschner, Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, Ludwig Honnefelder, Maureen Junker-Kenny, Theo Kobusch, Rudolf Langthaler, Christoph Markschies, Eduardo Mendieta, Ludwig Nagl, Heiner Roetz, Hans Schelkshorn, Thomas Schmidt, Notger Slenczka, Magnus Striet.

More information on the timeline will follow in August on the website of RaT.


Workshop: Media - Memory - Affects.
Dimensions of a Theology of Culture.

10 – 11 December 2021

Venue: Faculty of Protestant Theology

The programme can be found here.



"Continuity and Actuality of Anti-Semitism: An Austrian and Global Challenge".
On the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Vienna Gesera on 12 March 1421, the Sir Peter Ustinov Institute, in cooperation with the Faculty of Catholic Theology, the Faculty of Protestant Theology and the Research Centre Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society of the University of Vienna, organised a series of events in the summer semester 2021, which dealt with the continuity and topicality of anti-Semitism in Austria and Europe in an interdisciplinary way. Regina Polak from the Institute for Practical Theology was the academic director.
An overview of the speakers as well as the events to watch and listen to can be found here.


Expert Workshop: "Values - Politics - Religion: The European Values Study. In-depth Analysis - Interdisciplinary Perspectives - Future Prospects".

In the course of this research project, an online workshop was held on 1 June 2021 to interpret and discuss the initial empirical research results with high-ranking international experts from academia and politics. Participants included Heiner Bielefeldt (Chair in Human Rights and Human Rights Policy, Institute for Political Science, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg/D), Linda Woodhead (Professor at the Department for Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University/GB), András Máté-Tóth (Professor of Religious Studies, University of Szeged/H), Jehoshua Ahrens (Central Europe Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation and member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference, D), Sophie van Biijsterveld (Professor of Religion, Law and Coexistence at Radboud University Nijmegen/NL), Vincent Depaigne (European Commission, Coordinator for Dialogue with Churches, Religious Associations and Communities, Philosophical and Non-confessional Organisations, Brussels/B) and Harald Jauk (Assistant to Othmar Karas, Vice-President and Member of the European Parliament, Vienna A).
The focus was, among other things, on the question of how religious attitudes affect political attitudes in Europe and what consequences this has for the practice in churches and religious communities as well as in political and educational institutions.

RAT member Elisabeth Holzleithner takes part in this project.



RaT members contribute to public discourse by writing in newspapers, giving statements in television and podcasts, and by publishing on our blog. These are two of our most recent blog entries:




"The contrast between the summery city that has come back to life and the darkness of the first room of the current special exhibition at the Art History Museum (KHM) entitled 'Higher Powers - Of Humans, Gods and the Forces of Nature' could not be greater."


In this contribution, Katharina Limacher guides us through an experience that is still and once again unfamiliar: a museum visit.


"The vast majority of the shop-owners seems to see no longer a need to legitimate the closure of their shops in the public realm. And this seems to be true with regards to the whole spectrum of businesses that had to shut down temporarily due to the pandemic." 


This is the third part of a series by Karsten Lehmann in which he describes and analyses the 'communicative genre' of lockdown notes from businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.





Elisabeth Holzleithner

"Diagonal: One, two, three - here come the police" is about who becomes a police officer - at a time when this occupational group is exposed to many new demands and often faces fierce criticism in this country. They have to monitor Corona rules and be ready for action in case of terror. They should (re)act moderately at demonstrations, above all de-escalate. When called upon, they have to decide in a second whether someone is a danger to themselves or others. And they often have to deal with people who are in distress like refugees whom they even have to pick up at night and take into custody until their subsequent deportation.



Elisabeth Holzleithner

50 years after the lifting of the total ban on homosexuality, the new ORF III documentary "Forbidden Love - From the Death Penalty to Marriage for All" looks back at the history of same-sex love in Austria. It is a history of hiding and concealment. It is the story of people who for a long time were not allowed to have a story themselves.


Diesseits von Eden. Gespräche über Gott & die Welt.

Regina Polak

Under the title "Now tell me, how do you feel about religion?" - On the debate about the "Islam map", Theologians share their views on the project and also voice some sharp criticism - not so much of the project itself, but rather of the "framing" and the political instrumentalisation.



Regina Polak

Under the topic "Changing perceptions towards migrants takes a joint effort", Regina Polak, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, writes on The European Values Study 2017/2018 which shows that a joint effort in promoting tolerance and combatting discrimination makes a difference.


Die Furche

Regina Polak

"On the unease in culture": Unchecked aggression is evident in social media and in public and political discourse. Why are de-escalating voices heard so little?




Franz Winter is a university professor for Religious Studies at the University of Graz and a private lecturer for Religious Studies (2010) at the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Vienna. He completed studies in Classical Philology (Mag. phil. 1994; Dr. phil. 1999) and Theology/Religious Studies (Mag. theol. 1998; Dr. theol. 2005 sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publicae). His research stays led him to Graz, Vienna, Salzburg, Rome, Kyōto, Tōkyō and via Fulbright to Boston. He currently teaches at the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Graz. His current research interests include the history of contact between Europe and Asia from antiquity to the present, new religious movements in the East and West, esoteric studies, religion and media, and Islam and modernity.


We would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to our former RaT member Irene Klissenbauer. Irene was a post-doctoral researcher in the field of social ethics at the Faculty of Catholic Theology until 2021 and moved to the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) in the spring. With Irene, the Centre loses an outstanding social ethicist, and a committed and universally appreciated colleague. We are very pleased that we will continue to be in touch with her through her work and wish her all the best for her professional future!


Visit our Blog to read some of Irenes contributions.

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