"What are ‘religions’ in South Asia?"

Religious Diversity Colloquium Spring 2014

  • Date: May 22, 2014
  • Time: 15:30 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Michael Bergunder (University of Heidelberg)
  • Michael Bergunder is Professor of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology at the University of Heidelberg. His fields of interest include South India, Esotericism and Pentecostalism.
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 12, Göttingen
  • Room: Conference Room
"What are ‘religions’ in South Asia?"

For more details please contact vdvoffice(at)mmg.mpg.de.

Religious studies, up to now, could not agree on a common subject matter. In past discussion, however, it has remained largely unnoticed that there exists a potential point of agreement between the different positions. Nearly all approaches, at least implicitly, refer to a contemporary, everyday understanding of religion as a legitimizing reference, which, at the same time, remains largely unexplained and unreflected upon. If conceptualized appropriately, it is a suitable candidate for a consensus-capable subject matter or object of religious studies. However, a comprehensive theoretical approach is needed to address the complex issues involved. The major practical point of the approach suggested in the paper is that the only way of ascertaining „religion“ is through empirical research. Religion is not understood as an abstract theoretical concept but as a historical phenomenon. In the presentation at the colloquium I will argue that this approach has some interesting consequences for the research on South Asian „religions“.

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