Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION

God and Caesar in Motion: Changing Boundaries between Religion and Politics in a Pluralizing World

  • Prof. Dr. Michael Minkenberg (PI)
  • Dr. Anja Hennig, ahennig@europa-uni.de
  • Dr. Zeynep Yanasmayan (PI)
  • Christian Lichtenberg
Brandenburg Ministry of Sciences, Research and Cultural Affairs (Seed Money)
April 2014 - March 2015

The aim of the project "God and Caesar in Motion: Changing Boundaries between Religion and Politics in a Pluralizing World" is twofold: (1) It attempts to identify and explain cross-national patterns of change of the relationship between religion and politics. In doing so, it (2) seeks to make visible power structures as indicated by the in- and exclusion of religious groups, values, worldviews etc. in/from political norms, debates and decisions. For these purposes we develop and apply a concept of multiple boundaries between religion and politics that transcends classical configurations such as church-state relations: Central to this concept is the analytical distinction between normative, institutional, and policy (content-related) boundaries.

The project rests on two assumptions: (1) that boundaries between religion and politics have always been a matter of negotiation or conflict and, hence, are fluid and (2) that there is and always has been a gap between normative democratic principles such as the separation between religion and politics (incl. the liberal myth of the religiously neutral state) and political-institutional realities.

By combining theoretical and comparative-empirical approaches, the project aims at overcoming a peculiar gap in the current literature on religion and politics, which focuses on country-case explorations or comparative studies of particular aspects of religion and politics, usually addressing the secularization thesis and/or the role of Islam or Christian organizations in modern secular societies. In order to provide an encompassing empirical analysis of changing relations between religion and politics, two research questions are central: (1) How do boundaries between religion and politics change (change measured in terms of in- and exclusion of "religion" from politics) and (2) why do such changes occur? Comparative case studies will encompass liberal democracies in Europe, North America and Australia.