top of page

 © Stefan Matlik 


The Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics. Dynamics of Tradition and Innovation” at the University of Münster has been investigating the complex relationship between religion and politics across epochs and cultures since 2007. The 140 researchers from 10 countries and more than 20 disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are particularly concerned in the funding phase from 2019 to 2025 with the “dynamics of tradition and innovation”. They analyze in trans-epochal studies ranging from antiquity to the present day the conditions and factors that make religion an engine of political and social change, with their focus being above all on the paradox that religions often develop their innovative potential precisely by drawing on their traditions. The research network is the largest of its kind in Germany.

The approximately 80 research projects concentrate on the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and on their polytheistic precursors. The focus of interest is on Europe and the Mediterranean region, as well as on their entanglements with the Near East, Africa, North and Latin America.

Religion clearly plays a central role in the profound processes of change that we are currently witnessing in the world. All the more controversial, however, is the question of whether religion is merely a symbolic medium in which social conflicts are played out, or whether it is only used as an instrument for the pursuit of political and economic interests – or whether, indeed, it is an independent factor in such conflicts. Given the lack of clarity here, it is necessary to discover how religion is involved in social conflicts and what role it plays in them.


The work of the Cluster of Excellence focuses on the question of how religion can stimulate, contain and modify social and political conflicts; on what it derives its dynamic power from, in the past and present, and in different cultures; and on which external conditions foster or limit its ability to mobilize people. Unlike secularization theory, the Cluster of Excellence therefore takes religion seriously as an independent factor of social change, and draws attention to the active role of religion in political and social conflicts in the past and present.


As well as carrying out fundamental research, the Cluster of Excellence’s approximately 140 scholars seek to engage the general public in dialogue on pressing issues of the future and contribute their expertise, be it in the form of sociological findings on migration in Europe, philosophical reflections on biopolitics, legal analyses of religious constitutional law, or historical studies of the relationship between religion, violence and gender. The Centre for Research Communication disseminates research from the humanities and social sciences to a wide range of target groups in society in formats that are tailor-made for a particular theme.


The leadership of the Cluster is entitled to: Prof. Dr. Nils Jansen (History of Law; European Private Law), Speaker; Prof. Dr. Detlef Pollack (Sociology of Religion), Deputy Speaker.

BACK TO THE NETWORK MAIN PAGE                                                                                                                                       FAITHS AND CIVIL SOCIETY UNIT

bottom of page