Constituent Meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board

March 18 - 20 2019

In March 2019, the first Meeting of our Scientific Advisory Board, that comprises six international experts, took place. The Team and the Members of RaT presented the work of the Centre and the SAB provided consult concerning certain issues and opened up new perspectives for our future work. In this context, we also organised an Open Day that offered the opportunity to present RaT-related Research Projects to a broader public

Constituent Meeting of the SAB, March 19 2019

On March 19 the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Research Centre RaT held its constituent meeting at Schenkenstraße 8-10 in Vienna. The SAB is a board that comprises of six internationally renowned scientists from the US, Great Britain, Germany and Italy who will meet at least once a year. The installation of the SAB was an initiative instructed by the rectorate. The board supports the Research Centre by consulting RaT e.g. with regards to the Research Centre’s organizational development. Find further information on our SAB here.
The morning session started with a presentation of the Research Centre Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society. Subsequently, an introduction of members of the Research Centre as well as an introduction of the SAB members followed.
In the afternoon, three consultation sessions offered the possibility of discussing matters related e.g. to doctoral schools, dissemination strategies or state of the art research in which representatives of all faculties took part.

Open Day, March 20 2019

On march 20th, the Research Centre Religion and Transformation held its first Open Day to present some of its current activities to a broader public and give interested visitors an insight into research projects of Prae- and Post-Doc assistants affiliated to the Centre. In the spacious new lecture room of the Department of Islamic-Theological Studiesat Schenkenstrasse, around 35 guests enjoyed half a day gaining insights into diverse activities of RaT-Members. The morning began with a cup of coffee and a short presentation of the Centre. RaT’s history and development were outlined in terms of research issues pursued within the 10 years of its existence and an overview over the already published issues of the Open Access Journal J-RaT was given.

The first panel after the introduction was dedicated to current publications and conferences. Katharina Limacher, Astrid Mattes and Christoph Novak presented their book “Prayer, Pop and Politics – Researching Religious Youth in Migration Society” that will be published within RaT’s book series in spring 2019. They disclosed some of their objectives as well as central concepts that guided the process of the book’s development, such as intersectionality and methodological reflexivity. They also gave a brief overview over the different contributions. The foci of the articles range from digital and offline activism of religious youth to participatory action research projects on radicalisation prevention and include research on Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Alevi youth.

Karsten Lehmann, research professor for Interreligiosity at the university college for teacher education (Vienna/Krems), presented the visitors with an outlook on an upcoming conference on the topic of interreligious dialogue. This event is organised in collaboration with the Research Centre  and will take place in Vienna in October 2019 (and will be promoted on this website in time). The conference shall close a gap in research on interreligious dialogue. It aims at bringing together and systematically comparing different national cultures and their influence on interreligious dialogue in Europe. By inviting scholars from countries with very different denominational majorities (catholic, protestant, muslim and non-religious), the conference creates a unique frame for a scholarly discussion.

The second panel, chaired by Samuel Siaw, student of theology, encompassed three presentations of pre- and post-doctoral researchers affiliated with the Research Centre. The first presentation by Ranja Ebrahim, scholar of Islamic theology, bore the title “The qur’ānic textus receptus’ claim to universality within the contingency of textuality” (“Universalitätsanspruch des qur’ānischen textus receptus in der Kontingenz der Textualität”). Building upon her PhD research in Islamic pedagogy, Ranja Ebrahim presented the outline of a research project that wants to investigate how the Qur’ān and its claim to universality can be situated within the threefold context of the textus receptus, commenting literature and the perception by present-day Muslims.

Following the presentation of Ranja Ebrahim, philosopher and political scientist Matthias Flatscher presented an excerpt of his habilitation thesis entitled “The politics of Alterity” (“Politik(en) der Alterität”). The project puts forth a political reading of the history of phenomenology in 20th century and thereby introduces a concept of alterity that is highly relevant for political, philosophical and theological thought. Based on the writings of Levinas and Derrida, Flatscher developed a concept of politics of alterity in which the notions of ethics and politics are closely interrelated. This approach enables to articulate the demand for a critical understanding of universality in in the sense that universality is only possible in relation to singularity. 

Reflecting further on the relation between singularity, alterity and universality, Daniel Kuran gave a response in which he tried to demonstrate the benefits of the concept of a politics of alterity for theological thought. Taking the idea of ethical-political responsibility introduced by Levinas and Derrida seriously, theology cannot set it’s own starting point, but has to conceive of itself as a possible response to the unrepresentable singularity of the name of god. Therefore, religion must not be reduced to a mere object of political thought but also has to function as a subject contributing to a new vision of politics committed to alterity.