About the Fellow Group
Starting in December 2011, Prof. Dr. Matthias Koenig (University of Göttingen) was appointed as a Max Planck Fellow, to address the governance of cultural diversity with a particular focus on the legal accommodation of religious minorities.
The governance of cultural diversity is a major aspect of the ongoing transformation of nation-states. The nation-state model was premised on the concepts of direct rule, popular sovereignty and equal citizenship. Differences between ethnic and civic imaginations of the nation notwithstanding, deep cultural diversity was generally regarded as incompatible with the nation-state model; the rise to global hegemony of the nation-state model was deliberately accompanied by various forms of exclusion and conflict. In the wake of globalization and migration in the late twentieth century, however, new modes of accommodating cultural difference have emerged that attest to transformations of the nation-state model. The Fellow Group contributes to better understanding this transformation by focusing upon socio-legal dynamics of governing cultural diversity in global and comparative perspective. Among the various dimensions of cultural difference, the major analytical focus is upon religion since its inherent normativity constitutes particular challenges to, as well as resources of, secular state law.
Research within the Fellow Group draws upon theoretical and conceptual perspectives developed in sociology and socio-legal studies, which treat law as a medium of social integration or arena of political contestation. Specific emphasis is given to socio-legal dynamics operating at a global level or in transnational arenas. Following (neo-) institutional theories, law is regarded as articulating broader cognitive and normative frameworks of rights that are diffusing on a world-wide scale. And following field-theoretical approaches, law is treated as a transnational action field in which various actors, organizations and social movements struggle over the recognition of cultural difference. Methodologically, the Fellow Group combines large-N studies and comparative case studies in research designs of nested analysis.
The Max Planck Fellow Group currently pursues two interrelated lines of research. The first line of research examines how legitimating principles of nation-states have changed since the emergence of nation-states in the late eighteenth century by analyzing written constitutions. The second line of research aims is to scrutinize the role of the judicial arena in accommodating religious minorities in the European and North American context.