Past events


19.10.16 - 22.10.16

Refugee protest on Chios in April 2016.

Souda refugee camp on Chios.

Syrian-run snack bar in Izmir, Turkey.

Signpost on Chios. All photos by Gerda Heck.


19.10.16 16:00 Tagungszentrum an der Sternwarte, Geismar Landstr. 11, 37073 Göttingen
University of Göttingen

The Mediterranean Border Regime in Crisis? New tendencies and challenges of the European Border Regime in Southern Europe

A Workshop of the CETREN Pilot Project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship" in cooperation with the DAAD

Organizers: Sabine Hess and Gerda Heck

About the workshop

In early summer 2015 the European border regime in the Mediterranean faced a major crisis after extraordinarily high numbers of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. This was accompanied by border fortification measures by Frontex and NATO in the area. At the same time, a new field of humanitarian rescue activism emerged. Shortly after, the EU border regime literally collapsed for some months during the “long summer of migration”, precipitating a European-wide crisis of the EU border regime and its regulations, in particular of the “Schengen” and “Dublin” regulations. While the movements of migration have shown that neither fences nor ditches would stop the migrants from moving further, the political answers to these movements consisted and still consist of a severe multidimensional re-bordering of both the EU's external and internal borders.

The process of re-bordering unfolds through the reinforcement of old policies such as externalization, alongside the introduction of new mechanisms such as the EU-Turkey Deal, the establishment of the Hot Spot System, and the introduction of a European border guard, accompanied by regional re-nationalizations of border- and migration policies. These mechanisms point towards massive disenfranchisement, precarity and, in fact, a de-politization of the political momentum of the summer 2015.

The interdisciplinary workshop “The Mediterranean Border Regime in Crisis? New tendencies and challenges of the European Border Regime in Southern Europe” joins border and migration scholars from Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey for a critical assessment of the current developments and political responses to the “border regime crisis”. With a process rapidly unfolding and situated as it is across regional and geopolitical dimensions, we believe that a comparative analytical gaze is required to understand the “border regime crisis” and its massive effects on European societies and migrants’ lives.



19.10.16 16:00 - 17:00



18:00 - 20:00


Notes on the Crises of the Mediterranean Border Regime

Charles Heller, Goldsmiths, University of London

20.10.16 10:00 - 12:30
Panel session


Panel I:
The Mediterranean Border Regime in / as crisis


The management of ‘the refugee crisis in Portugal

Elsa Lechner, CES Coimbra

Crisis within crisis: ambivalent responses, uncertain becomings

Dimitris Parsanoglu, Panteion University Athens

At the edge of all ambiguities. Migration and migration politics in the Aegean Region after the EU-Turkey-deal

Gerda Heck, CETREN / University of Göttingen & Firat Genc, Bogazici University, Istanbul

Discussant: Sabine Hess

20.10.16 14:30 - 17:00
Panel session


Panel II:
Two sides of the same coin? Understanding securitization and/or humanitarianism


Delocalized and Humanitarianized Migration Management in the Southern Central Mediterranean: Between Exclusion and Inclusion

Paolo Cuttitta, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Track, sort and archive: Eurosur, Frontex and the temporality of migration maps in the context of the "humanitarian war" on smugglers

Martina Tazzioli, University of Aix-Marseille

Framing the border regime in terms of Prohibition system, between black market and historical recurrences: What do we gain and what do we loose?

Luca Ciabarri, Escapes, University of Milan

Monstrosity, Abjection and Europe in the War on Terror

Gaia Giuliani, CES Coimbra

Discussant: Barbara Beznec

20.10.16 17:30 - 19:00
Panel session


Panel III:
Struggles over im/mobilities


“Malta is like a prison” – Islandness and non-deportable refugees

Sarah Nimführ, University of Vienna

Border Politics, Syrian Migration and Conflict in the Geographic Margins of Turkey

Pınar Senoguz, University of Göttingen

Interstitial subjectivities. The transit experience of refugees criss-crossing the Europan borders

Elena Fontanari, Escapes, University of Milan / Humboldt University Berlin

Discussant: Paolo Cuttitta

21.10.16 09:00 - 11:00
Panel session


Panel IV:
Camps, prisons, tents and jungles – spaces of containment: logics and resistances


Reception or detention? The ambivalence of Italien reception system for asylum seekers

Emanuela Dal Zotto, Escapes, University of Milan

Seeking Asylum in Time of Crisis. Reception, confinement and detention at Europe’s Southern Border

Giuseppe Campesi, University of Bari

"All I need is the transfer and pocket money" – Excellence and contradictions in a Sicilian transit center,

Osvaldo Costantini, University of Rome “La Sapienza”

Discussant: Simona Pagano

21.10.16 11:30 - 13:30
Panel session


Panel V:
Negotiating solidarity: approaches and challenges


Solidarities that matter and the rise of decolonial nationalisms on the Greek borderline

Nelli Kambouri, Panteion University Athens

Overcoming exclusion. Active engagement of refugees and intercultural relations as tools for participation and integration

Chiara Marchetti, Escapes, University of Milan

Grassroots projects of housing in the center of Athens. The case of City Plaza Hotel

Olga Lafazani, University of Barcelona

Discussant: Fadi Saleh

21.10.16 15:00 - 17:00


Closing discussion

21.10.16 18:00 Tagungs- und Veranstaltungshaus, Alte Mensa Wilhelmsplatz 3, 37073 Göttingen


Joint meeting with "Rat für Migration" & roundtable discussion

Quo vadis border regime? Assessment of recent developments

22.10.16 09:00 - 11:00 Tagungs- und Veranstaltungshaus, Alte Mensa Wilhelmsplatz 3, 37073 Göttingen

Keynote lecture

Dimitris Christopoulos, Panteion University Athens

22.10.16 11:30 - 13:00 Tagungs- und Veranstaltungshaus Alte Mensa, Wilhelmsplatz 3, 37073 Göttingen


Panel discussion 

The responsibility of science in knowledge production – critical approaches



The Entrepreneur and the Broker

14.01.16 - 15.01.16

Textile traders in Guangzhou, China. Photo by Nellie Chu.


14.01.16 09:00 Alte Sternwarte, Geismar Landstr. 11, 37073 Göttingen
University of Göttingen

The Entrepreneur and the Broker:
mediating transregional flow, scale & belonging

A Workshop of the CETREN Pilot Project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship"

Organizers: Lisa Björkman (University of Louisville) and Nellie Chu (CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher)

Program flyer


About the workshop

This research workshop is animated by a constitutive tension between two figures who might be described as the ambivalent heroes and the villains of late modernity: the entrepreneur and the broker. Scholars have become increasingly interested in ‘entrepreneurialism’ and ‘enterprise citizenship,’ whether as a valorized ethic of self-making or as a despised mode of neoliberal governmentality that characterizes the contemporary global era. Alongside the entrepreneur, the figure of the ‘broker’ or ‘fixer’ has emerged as an equally prominent and ambivalent figure in popular discourse and scholarly inquiry. The role of intermediation and brokerage in enabling cultural, capital and commodity circulations – by facilitating access to material, financial and sociocultural resources, markets, infrastructures, and various kinds of institutionally-and informally-backed rights and entitlements – is featured within a growing interdisciplinary literature on the infrastructures of transnational capital, global commodity chains, migration, finance, variegated citizenship, urbanism, and logistics. The individualist romance of the entrepreneur, needless to say, sits uncomfortably alongside the necessarily embedded and mediating figure of the broker, the indispensible shadowy figure whose work animates and facilitates flows of capital, goods, people and ideas.

While advocates of the “spirit of enterprise” applaud the scaling back of state-regulatory regimes for unleashing entrepreneurial spirit (theorized as a property of individuals), critical scholarship has called attention to the socioeconomic relations and institutional contexts that enable some individuals to successfully pursue entrepreneurial activity while thwarting the efforts of others. Celebrations of entrepreneurialism have thus been critiqued for obfuscating entrenched inequalities of class, status, and power, and for ascribing socio-economic successes born of pre-existing structural endowments and class advantages to ‘bootstrapping’ individualistic heroics. The broker/fixer has emerged in critical scholarship as a means by which these entrenched hierarchies can be obviated, relations of domination resisted, and new sorts of counter-hegemonic possibilities and aspirations pursued. At the same time, however, even when destabilizing hegemonic relations of power, brokerage has been characterized as a morally fraught (and frequently violent) sphere of activity, often bound up with corruption and criminality, political-administrative distortion and dysfunction.

Leaving aside these normative questions (for the time being), we propose that the empirically interesting question concerns first, the content of brokerage in producing, sustaining, and subverting entepreneurial energies and worlds, and second, the relationship of this content to ideas and practices of transregional flows and exchanges. For the most part, existing scholarly debates on the various configurations of state-and non-state forms of entrepreneurialism and brokerage have largely taken place in reference to the territorial confines and conceptual/methodological frameworks of the nation state, to the exclusion of other locations and directionalities and scales. This workshop takes a somewhat different approach, taking the figure of the broker as a methodological entryway for exploring how processes and practices of brokerage mediate transregional movements of people, money, knowledge, objects, and ideas through mercantile and capitalist enterprise.

We invite contributions that explore how a variety of actors and institutions mediate flows of goods, scales, and claims of belonging. The following questions are of interest to us, although we welcome other lines of inquiry:

  • As mobile subjects who challenge the notion of culture and identities as fixed or bounded, what kinds of regimes of governance, imaginaries of ‘stateness’ or rights regimes are activated or destabilized by the broker-mediated border transgressions of migrants, refugees, nomads and traders?
  • How are borders and territories constituted through the brokerage practices of translators, mediators, and transregional commercial actors whose boundary-crossing work articulates contours of political regimes?
  • What sorts of non-human and cosmological worlds both animate and are effected by brokerage practices?
  • How are movements of money, commodities, and other resources made to flow across borders, and how do these infrastructures of flow transform socionatural and built environments?
  • What kinds of spaces and scales (urban, national, regional, marginal or borderland) are produced, demolished, or (re)built through the complex sociomaterial and relational activities of transregional entrepreneurialism?

Johan Lindquist



13.01.16 16:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal ZHG 005

Mediating Indonesian Migration: Brokerage, Ethnography, and the Production of Knowledge

Johan Lindquist, Stockholm University

In this talk I discuss the rise of documented transnational migration from Indonesia to countries across Asia and the Middle East, most notably Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, since the 1997 Asian economic crisis. While men work on construction sites and Malaysia palm oil plantations, the majority are women who become domestic care workers across the region. These transformations should be understood in relation to a broader turn to “circular migration,” which has moved to the top of the international policy agenda. Arguably Asia and the Middle East are a laboratory for these transformations.

In order to understand how circularity is put into practice, I have shifted my methodological starting focus away from the migrants themselves to the wide variety of brokers who mediate the migration process. These brokers include unlicensed recruiters who approach migrants in villages across Indonesia, recruitment companies that are formally licensed to handle the recruitment process, and foreign employers that struggle to access labor. Beginning in 2007 I have intermittently conducted fieldwork among these brokers, primarily on the Indonesian island of Lombok.

More generally, I will discuss the consequences of this methodological approach in relation to the actual fieldwork, the forms of knowledge that follow, and the struggles to conceptualize this knowledge in broader conceptual terms. While migration research, most notably within the field of anthropology, has generally been concerned with the perspective of the migrant, and been conceptualized in terms of social networks, the focus on brokers points towards alternative conceptualizations such as migration industry, apparatus, and, most recently, infrastructure, but more generally, an increasing concern with the mediation of migration.

About the speaker

Johan Lindquist is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is a member of the editorial committee of Public Culture, has published articles in journals such as Ethnos, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Public Culture, Pacific Affairs, and International Migration Review, is the co-editor of "Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity" (University of Hawai’i Press, 2013), the author of "The Anxieties of Mobility: Development and Migration in the Indonesian Borderlands" (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), and the director of the documentary film B.A.T.A.M. (Documentary Educational Resources, 2005). His current book project is entitled "Mediating Migration: Brokering Knowledge and Mobility in Indonesia and Beyond".


Through the Looking-Glass


Advertisement at a fabrics market in Guangzhou. Photo by Nellie Chu.


07.12.15 14:00 - 18:00 Paulinerkirche, Papendiek 14, 37073 Göttingen.

Through the Looking-Glass:
Imagining China/Africa Relations through Commodity Aesthetics, Art Media, and Photography

A public roundtable of the CETREN Pilot Project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship"

Organizers: Nellie Chu & Gerda Heck

Program and Speakers

About the roundtable

Over the past decade, the intensification of trade and diplomatic relations between China and countries across the African continent has shifted scholarly attention from the spatial and discursive binary of East and West to the emerging field of South-South relations. Indeed, increasing numbers of interdisciplinary scholars are examining the socio-economic implications of these trans-continental ties that are built by the presence of overseas Chinese in Africa, as well as by African migrants in China. Their studies, however, have tended to focus on the broader political and economic impacts of social engagement among these transnational migrants. Fewer scholars have investigated the subjective and embodied experiences of these cross-cultural encounters through art, visual media, and material culture. The mobile objects and images that mediate these distinct regions, histories, and customs offer us critical insights into the ways in which ordinary people construct spatial and cultural imaginaries of “China” and “Africa” in popular discourse.

This one-day workshop invites cross-disciplinary scholars and art practitioners to examine the visual worlds and material cultures that mediate representations of “China” and “Africa” through encounters among the overseas Chinese in Africa, as well as by African migrants in China. Specifically, this roundtable uses commodity aesthetics, photographic images, and art objects in order to analyze the post-colonial dynamics of power, cultural “frictions” or misunderstandings, and gendered intimacies that are produced through these trans-cultural exchanges. Our event discusses the following questions, though they are not exhaustive of this topic of inquiry: How do mobilities of art, craft, fashion, and film bridge China/ Africa relations? In turn, how do the moving objects of art, craft, industry, and fashion across national and continental boundaries re-conceptualize our interlocutors’ understandings of “China” and “Africa” as they engage in transnational exchange?


Nellie Chu, CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher.

Manon Diederich, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne.

Christian Hanussek, Artist, writer and curator based in Berlin.

Gerda Heck, CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher.

Michaela Pelican, Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne.

Yu Qiu, Phd Candidate, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Xiaopeng Zhou, Berlin-based artist.

Webb Keane



27.05.15 15:30 - 17:00 MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, Göttingen.

Mediating Piety: A Qur'anic Quarrel in Indonesia

Webb Keane

Indonesian Muslims have been participating enthusiastically in the global rise of middle class piety. One way to gain insight into contemporary piety is to examine conflicts that might reveal the internal tensions and pressure points to which it is giving rise. Among the more puzzling conflicts for many outside observers to grasp have been those that center on semiotic transgressions. These can be especially important because of the role they play in mediating between subjectivities and the public world, and as sites of conflict between secular doctrines of freedom of religion and of expression. This talk focuses on the critical storm stirred up by the Qur’anic renderings produced by a prominent editor and literary critic, H.B. Jassin, during the last decades of the twentieth century. The Jassin affair sheds light on some more general aspects of religious affect, objectification, and ethics.

About Webb Keane

Webb Keane is the George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan where he is associated with both the Social-Cultural and the Linguistic Anthropology subfields. His writings cover a range of topics in social and cultural theory and the philosophical foundations of social thought and the human sciences. In particular, he is interested in semiotics and language; material culture; gift exchange, commodities, and money; religion, morality, and ethics; media and public cultures. At present he is involved in two major projects. The first concerns morality, ethics, and virtue as special, even constitutive, problems for social science.  It is especially concerned with exploring the points of intersection and divergence between ethnography and its borderlands with psychology, on the one hand, and social history, on the other.  This is the subject of his forthcoming volume, Ethical Life.  The second project centers on religious piety, language, and media in Indonesia, with a special interest in semiotic transgressions.

Siting Pluralism: Practices of Religious Difference

29.01.15 - 30.01.15


29.01.15 13:45 Tagungszentrum an der Sternwarte (Historic Observatory conference venue).
University of Göttingen

Siting Pluralism: Practices of Religious Difference

A workshop of the CETREN Pilot Project "The Politics of Secularism and the Emergence of New Religiosities".

Organizers: Neena Mahadev & Jeremy F. Walton (CETREN Postdoctoral Researchers).

Workshop program


About the workshop

Dilemmas of religious plurality are a constitutive, if occasionally disavowed, feature of both political modernity and scholarship that attempts to comprehend it. During its nascence in early modern Europe, state-formation and nation-building were inseparable from intense interconfessional conflict. Moreover, questions of religious difference—its construction, consequences, and the politics that attend it—have shadowed social scientific theories of religion since their origins in the 19th Century. As recent critical histories of comparative religion have demonstrated, the transition from theological to social scientific discourse on religious difference pivoted on a taxonomic rendering of specific traditions, practices, theologies, and communities as “world historical” (Masuzawa 2005). Simultaneously, the asymmetries of colonial encounters fueled practical theorization about religious difference with the aim of domesticating, and thereby governing, subject groups (Chidester 1996; Dirks 2001).

Contemporary studies of religious plurality and interreligious pluralism necessarily draw on this troubled genealogy of comparative religion and religious difference (Asad 1993), even as they endeavor to historicize and problematize its muted premises. Recent studies of secularism and the governance of religious diversity (Bhargava 1998; Asad 2003; Mahmood 2005; Bader 2007; Hurd 2009), in particular, have argued that the construction and elaboration of ratified religious differences are part and parcel of efforts to depoliticize religion on the part of the modern nation-state, even as such efforts frequently involve unanticipated politicizing effects on religious practices and communities (Agrama 2012; Dressler 2013; Tambar 2014). And yet, despite the political impossibility of religious “freedom” from the legal-bureaucratic perspective of the secular state (Sullivan 2007), specific religious actors in both national and transnational contexts continue to articulate and espouse projects of religious “autonomy” and interreligious pluralism with vigor.

This broad body of critical work on secularism and religious pluralism has made important contributions to the social scientific study of religion. To an overwhelming extent, however, it has focused on the nation-state and its repertoires of religious difference, often to the exclusion of other domains, both protean and expansive. In this workshop, we marshal a different perspective on religious plurality with a double focus: first, on specific (ethnographic, historical, institutional) sites within which religious difference achieves definition and traction (Bowen and Bertossi 2014), and, secondly, on the articulation of these sites with transregional networks, movements, flows, and horizons of belonging. Rather than emphasizing how settled definitions of religious difference are managed and deployed, we seek to plumb contextual processes of boundary-making and –breaking in relation to religious plurality (Brubaker 2013). Such an approach, with its simultaneous emphasis on deeply embedded and transregional logics of religious difference, complicates “national” models, which situate both secularism and dilemmas of religious plurality in exclusive relation to the state.

Our overarching goal in this workshop is to mediate between two divergent approaches to religious difference: studies that focus solely on state constructions of religion, on the one hand, and “interactional” approaches to interreligious pluralism from below, on the other. While the first approach risks reifying and attributing sole power to the state itself, the second perspective is prone to both liber al triumphalism and a problematic nostalgia for ostensibly premodern interreligious harmony (cf. Nandy 1998). Our contention is that a fine-grained, contextual focus on practices of religious difference and interreligious pluralism can incorporate the insights of both state-focused and interactional approaches without succumbing to their respective essentialisms.

With this aspiration in mind, we seek contributions that explore how a variety of actors and institutions mediate, construct, and project religious difference in specific sites. Such sites include, but are not limited to, places of shared or contested worship, such as pilgrimage destinations; missionary contexts; conferences and other public venues specifically devoted to interreligious “tolerance” (cf. Brown 2005) and interaction; myriad institutional sites (e.g. workplaces) where religious differences are explicitly theorized and problematized by various actors; and, spaces defined specifically in relation to “religious” minorities, especially within liberal democratic polities. This list of sites is meant to be suggestive rather than exhaustive.

In keeping with the general goals and commitments of the CETREN Transregional Research Network, we invite papers that examine and interrogate the spatial practices of religious difference in relation to “the politics of the new”: new languages and practices of religion, new categories of religious and non-religious authority which bring about distinctive relations with citizen-subjects, and new forms of religious and secular personhood.

Workshop schedule


29.01.15 13:45 - 14:30
Opening remarks and Greeting

29.01.14 14:30 - 16:30
Panel session

Panel 1: Spirited, Plural Placemaking

Chair: Srirupa Roy
Discussant: Anderson Blanton


Land Makes Family: The Place of Pluralism in Surinamese Rituals of Settlement
Stuart E. Strange, University of Michigan


The Society of the Dead: Morality of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Vietnamese Public Cemeteries
Heonik Kwon, University of Cambridge


Contested Narratives, Challenged Faiths: Croatia’s Religious Communities and Rival Interpretations of Second World War Traumas
Vjeran Pavlaković, University of Rijeka

29.08.14 16:30 - 17:00
Coffee break

29.01.15 17:00 - 18:45 Historische Sternwarte, Geismar Landstr. 11

Spiritual Governance

Winnifred F. Sullivan, Indiana University

29.01.15 18:45 - 20:00

30.01.15 09:00 - 11:30 Tagunszentrum an der Sternwarte, Geismar Landstr. 11
Panel session

Panel 2: Religious Pluralism as Secular Dilemma?

Chair: Matthias Koenig
Discussant: Radhika Gupta


“O Brasil é laico?” Debating Religious Intolerance and Secularism in Brazil
Elina I. Hartikainen, University of Chicago


Negotiating Pluralism: Religious Difference between the Secular and the Islamic State
Noah D. Salomon, Carleton College 


Secular Power, Law and the Politics of Religious Sentiments
Sadia Saeed, Boston University

30.01.15 11:00 - 11:30
Coffee break

30.01.15 11:30 - 13:30
Panel session

Panel 3: Projects and Projections of Pluralism

Chair: Rupa Viswanath
Discussant: Devika Bordia


Spatial Projects and Governmental Logics of Religious Pluralism in Croatia and Turkey
Jeremy F. Walton, Georg August University of Göttingen


Thoughts on the Slippage between ‘Religion’ and ‘Culture’
Olga Demetriou, PRIO Cyprus Centre


Sacred States and Secular Theologies: Multifaith Partnerships for Social Justice in Russia
Melissa L. Caldwell, University of California, Santa Cruz

30.01.15 13:30 - 14:30

30.01.15 14:30 - 16:30
Panel session

Panel 4: Plural Discursive Regimes and Repertoires of Difference

Chair: Patrick Eisenlohr
Discussant: Zeynep Ozgen


State and Non-State Sites for the Production of Alevi Religious Difference
Markus Dressler, Georg August University of Göttingen


The Maverick Dialogics of Religious Rivalry in Sri Lanka: Aspiration and Contestation in a New Theravāda Buddhist Millennial Movement
Neena Mahadev, Georg August University of Göttingen 


Impious Pleasures and Pious Kin in Kurdistan
J. Andrew Bush, New York University Abu Dhabi

30.01.15 16:30 - 17:30
Final discussion

30.01.15 18:30 Restaurant Fellini, Groner-Tor-Str. 28, Göttingen
Dinner (for participants)

John Bowen



22.01.15 16:00 - 18:00 University of Göttingen, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Waldweg 26, Room 2.112.

How accommodating should liberal societies be of conservative Islam: Issues of translation and public deliberation

John Bowen

 The idea, or perhaps the mirage, of a secular-religious divide now haunts public discussions across societies in Europe and Asia. Theoretical and political debates seem curiously segregated. In Britain, for example, any remaining sense of a “proper domain of the religious” has been unmoored, as schools confront new religious challenges to comfortable accommodations of church and society—and the Anglo-American liberal notions of public reason and translation have little to offer. Nor do new and satisfying ways to reformulate Islamic, Hindu, “secular” and other conceptions of a social and political foundation emerge to guide ongoing challenges to politics across northern Africa and southern Asia (again, for example). 

In a brief talk I can only bite off a small bit of this large problem. I look at Britain, and at the issues raised by current debates about schools and sharia councils. How conservative an Islam might, or ought, British institutions to accept? To what extent must the characteristics of the particular institution—the school, a divorce tribunal, a parliament—shape the normative position taken on this question? When and how much must holders of highly conservative positions “translate”, as Habermas puts it, into universally acceptable terms? And are there alternative conceptions of debate and difference that preserve irresolvable conflict at the heart of the public sphere—here, perhaps, Hampshire versus Habermas? Finally, how can ethnography bear on normative questions in political theory?

About John Bowen

John R. Bowen is the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and recurrent Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. He has been studying Islam and society in Indonesia since the late 1970s, and since 2001 has worked in France, England, and North America on problems of pluralism, law, and religion, and in particular on contemporary efforts to rethink Islamic norms and civil law. His most recent book on Asia is "Islam, Law and Equality in Indonesia: An Anthropology of Public Reasoning" (Cambridge, 2003). His "Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves" (Princeton, 2007) concerned current debates in France on Islam and laïcité. "Can Islam be French?" (Princeton,2009) treatedMuslim debates and institutions in Franceand appeared in French in 2011. "A New Anthropology of Islam" from Cambridge and Blaming Islam from MIT Press appeared in 2012, and "European States and their Muslim Citizens" will appear from Cambridge in late 2013. He is currently writing "Shaping British Islam", to appear from Princeton. He also writes regularly for "The Boston Review". His current work concerns ways to analytically span regions in studying law, religion (Islam), and the state.


Engseng Ho



10.11.14 16:00 - 18:00 University of Göttingen, Waldweg 26, Room 0.138.

Dubai and Singapore: Global City, Maritime Port or Merchant State?

Engseng Ho

Dubai and Singapore are emblematic of the contemporary global moment, embodying dizzying success, frenetic excess, spectacular crash. Are they global cities or port-states? Are they Asian nations or corporations descended from the European trading companies? Their iconic status today as global cities is not simply a function of globalization, but can be understood in terms of dynamic currents that shape and reshape places in the Indian Ocean, the original Asian venue of an international economy. Dubai and Singapore are two tiny places that have been successful because they have understood those currents, and acted in accordance with changes in their dynamics. What are these dynamics – their constants over the long term, and their recent shifts?

About Engseng Ho

Engseng Ho is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History at Duke University, and Muhammad Alagil Distinguished Visiting Professor of Arabia Asia Studies, National University of Singapore. He is interested in the transregional and transcultural dimensions of Islamic societies, and their relations with western empires. His research sites tend to be around the Indian Ocean, in Arabia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. His thematic and teaching interests circle around mobility and anthropology-history. He has been active in promoting inter-Asian research with the SSRC, National University of Singapore, Hong Kong University and Arabian partners in recent years. He is a consulting editor at Comparative Studies in Society and History, and co-editor of the Asian Connections book series at Cambridge University Press. He has previously worked as Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University; Senior Scholar, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies; Country and Profile Writer, The Economist Group; International Economist, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation/Monetary Authority of Singapore.






Lily Kong, National University of Singapore

Death and its rituals in urban Asia

In many Asian cities, particularly those that confront increasing land scarcity, the conversion from burial to cremation has been encouraged by state agencies in the last several decades. From Hong Kong to Taipei to Singapore, planning agencies have sought to reduce the use of space for the dead, in order to release land for the use of the living. The more secular guiding principles regarding efficient land use in these cities had originally come up against the symbolic values invested in burial spaces, resulting in conflicts between different value systems. In more recent years, however, the shift to cremation and columbaria has been marked, and even voluntary, for example, in Hong Kong, where private providers offer creative and expressive options in new columbaria. In still more recent years, even columbaria have become overcrowded, and sea burials (the scattering of ashes in the seas) are being encouraged, as are woodland burials (the scattering of ashes in woodlands or around trees) in places like Hong Kong and Taipei. Indeed, the latter has been promoted as the “new eco-friendly burial method”. As burial methods change, so too do commemorative rituals, and the annual Qing Ming Festival (tomb sweeping) has seen the rise of new online and mobile phone rituals in China. This paper traces the ways in which physical spaces for the dead in several Asian cities have diminished and changed over time, the growth of virtual space for them, the accompanying discourses that influence these dynamics, and the new rituals that emerge concomitantly with the contraction of land space.

About Lily Kong

Lily Kong is a Provost’s Chair Professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore. She is also the Vice Provost (Academic Personnel). A graduate of the National University of Singapore and University College London,Prof Kong's main research foci are religion, cultural policy and creative economy, and national identity. She has also written about globalisation and migration, and the social construction of nature and the environment. She has 13 books and monographs to her name, as well as over 100 papers in international refereed journals and chapters in books. Prof Kong has won research awards at NUS and internationally, as well as teaching awards at NUS.Prof Kong is an editor of the international journal Dialogues in Human Geography. She is also a series editor of "Pacific Rim Geographies: Studies on Contemporary Culture, Environment, Cities and Development" (Routledge) and Co-Chief Editor of the ARI-Springer Asia Series. Additionally, she is Book Series Advisor for "The Politics of Popular Culture in Asia Pacific" (University of Illinois Press and Hong Kong University Press). She is also a member of 15 editorial boards, and international editorial advisory boards of international journals.In her role as Vice Provost, she works with the Provost in academic personnel matters including recruitment, development, promotion and tenure, benchmarking and resource allocation.

James Ferguson




03.07.14 16:00 - 18:00 University of Göttingen, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, Room 1.701.

A Rightful Share: Beyond Gift and Market in the Politics of Distribution

The paper develops an argument that new kinds of welfare states in the global South are opening up possibilities for new sorts of politics. Against an analysis of the limitations of traditional ideas of nationalization in Africa, it seeks to show that new forms of social assistance are allowing the question of national ownership of wealth to be reimagined in new ways -- ways that may allow the idea of a "rightful share" to take on a quite different significance than it does in traditional discussions of nationalization of natural resources. Taking recent campaigns for a "Basic Income Grant" (BIG) in South Africa and Namibia as a window onto these new political possibilities, it argues that a new politics of distribution is emerging, in which citizenship-based claims to a share of national wealth are beginning to be recognizable as an alternative to both the paradigm of the market (where goods are received in exchange for labor) and that of "the gift" (where social transfers to those excluded from wage labor have been conceived as aid, charity, or assistance).  Beyond the binary of market and gift, the idea of "a rightful share", it is suggested, opens possibilities for radical political claims that could go far beyond the limited, technocratic aim of ameliorating poverty that dominates existing cash transfer programs.

About James Ferguson

James Ferguson is Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University.  He also holds honorary appointments at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University and the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town.  He is the author or editor of several books, including Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order (2006).  His current work on distribution and social assistance will appear as a forthcoming book, with the provisional title, Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution.

Fenggang Yang




05.06.14 18:00 - 19:30 University of Göttingen, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, Room 0.610.

Agency-Driven Secularization and Chinese Experiments in Multiple Modernities:

A Response to Peter Berger’s The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age

In 1999, Peter Berger “very noisily” rescinded the secularization theory that he formulated in the 1960s. Since then, he has reiterated this retraction on many occasions, both in his writings and speeches and in speaking to sociologists of religion and to wider audiences of cultural and political elites in many countries. However, until today, some people in the intelligentsia, both in the East and the West, seem to hold a certain resentment about his rescindment and cling to the old paradigm thinking. For these people, Peter Berger’s new essay, “The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age,” might look like a welcome course reversal. He takes one step back, trying to salvage some notions from his earlier theory in an effort to construct what he calls “a new paradigm.” However, in my view, this is neither a new paradigm nor a revamping of the old theory, but rather a new theory of agency-driven secularization. In this theory, he offers new insights that are important for the theoretical development of the social scientific study of religion and religious pluralism in the modern world. In order to move forward, however, it appears that we must first deal with some old issues associated with the paradigm shift. We also need to distinguish between descriptive and normative theories. Peter Berger’s new theorizing is more of a normative theory than a descriptive theory, and such a theory may serve as the basis for an intentional secularization program. In fact, China as a late developing country has experimented with various models of intentional secularization. The Chinese case demonstrates the need to assess the social consequences of various models instead of simply regarding them all as equally modern. Lastly, I will suggest some conceptual clarification of Berger’s new insights for the purpose of theoretical construction in the social scientific study of religious pluralism.

About Fenggang Yang

Fenggang Yang is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, Indiana, USA. His research focuses on religious change in China and immigrant religions in the United States. He is the author of “Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule” (2012) and “Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities” (1999), and the co-editor of six books. He has received two distinguished article awards, “The Red, Black, and Gray Markets of Religion in China” and “Transformations in New Immigrant Religions and Their Global Implications”(with Helen Rose Ebaugh). He has given many invited lectures and presentations at major universities and think-tanks, and has been interviewed by the National Public Radio, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, etc. He has served as an elected member of the councils of the ASA Sections of Religion and of Asia and Asian America, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Association for the Sociology of Religion. He is the Editor of the Review of Religion and Chinese Society, a journal to be launched in 2014.


14.05.14 - 16.05.14


14.05.14 16:00
Akademie Waldschlösschen, Göttingen

Book Workshop


14-16 May 2014, University of Göttingen.


  • Axel Schneider  (Director, Centre for Modern East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen)
  • Dan Smyer Yu (Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen)


Program brochure

About the workshop

In the past two decades the religious landscape of (Greater) China has changed dramatically. In mainland China after decades of suppression, “traditional” religion was allowed to grow again, by now reaching levels of revival far beyond anything one could have imagined twenty years ago. On Taiwan, religious cults and movements, never fully suppressed during the period of martial law, gained additional strength and influence in the context of democratization developing into one of the main social forces of the island. This return of the religious coincides in China with a period of rapid economic and social modernization, thus seemingly contradicting and falsifying the expectations of western mainstream theories of modern social and cultural development. However, is it really that clear-cut? Focusing on the reappearance of Buddhism, we find -- next to attempts at carefully modernizing Buddhism so as to suit the framework and needs of modern society -- forms of Buddhist practice that adopt a fundamentally critical position vis-à-vis modernity or, on the other side of the spectrum, that go far beyond inherited Buddhist denominations, doctrinal positions and practice.

This workshop is part of a larger inquiry into the nature of the current Buddhist “revival”, its historical origins, socio-economic roots, religious aspirations and political entanglements, while paying close attention to the context of transregional and global processes of interaction, influence, rejection and conflict.

The book resulting from the workshop will be a critical study of transformative changes in Buddhist practices since the late nineteenth century when China began its unprecedented encounters with global forces of change from Europe, Japan, and North America. In the context of recent developments at Göttingen University (i.e. the initiative of “The Politics of Secularism and the Emergence of New Religiosities” at CETREN), we locate our researchon modern Chinese Buddhism within the context of studies of new forms of religiosity and forces of resistance against these. These new forms are emerging from processes of secularization, scientistic and utopian visions of the future, inter-ethnic encounters and their concomitant nationalist re/actions, as well as of the ongoing globalization of religions, and growing New Age Spirituality within contemporary China.

The transnational and transregional emphasis of our project is premised on the historical fact that modern China inherits the legacy of an imperial past: a multiethnic empire, the expansion and subsequent rule of which took place not only among emperors of Han Chinese origin but also among those of Mongolian and Manchurian origin. The transregional and transnational passages of religions through trading routes and between the imperial court and its suzerainties laid the groundwork for more frequent and larger-scale encounters of traditional religious practices with global forces of change during the 20th century, including political ideologies, modern science and technology, and economic globalization. “Transregional” and “transnational” in the context of modern China thus suggest not only historically recognized inter-ethnic religious exchanges but also a series of local-global engagements of traditional religious constituencies with a flux of new secular ideas and practices emerging primarily, but not exclusively, from the West.

Situated in this context, we engage in a study of modern Chinese Buddhism that recognizes what we call “a modernizing trend” of new forms of religiosity and spirituality. This trend emerges from different Buddhist constituencies in their encounters, interactions, or counteractions with secular ideas of human flourishing, social equality, religiosity of political ideologies, and perceived soteriological motives of modern science and technology. At the same time, we do pay attention to the fact that these new trends were from the very beginning facing opposition from religious activists who were fundamentally critical of many core aspects of modernity.

Seen from this angle, the history of Buddhist traditions in early modern China is laden with millennarianist passions, utopian visions, nationalist fervor, secularist iconoclasm, progressive radicalism, and various types of counter-forces resisting these new developments. Buddhism, like other traditional religions in China, experienced a crisis at the hands of overwhelmingly multifarious historical events, ideological turning points, and Chinese geopolitical clashes with other nations. The transformative changes to Buddhism did not stop with the arrival of modernity but continue into the present day to experience more upheaval, destructive encounters, and rejuvenation. It is not exaggerating to say that Buddhism in modern Chinese history has had multiple lives: it has perished and been reborn into different forms, and it continues to undergo cycles of commotion and rebirth in contemporary China. It is a soteriological instrument but its “life history” is subject to the changing social conditions of China’s modernity and modernization.

Continuing the existing scholarly discourses centered on the modernization of Buddhism (Goldfuss 2001, Heine and Prebish 2003), the political influence of Buddhist thought (Chan 1985),humanistic Buddhism (Guruge 2003; Seager 2006), Buddhism in the making of modern China (Tuttle 2005), Buddhist nationalisms (Yu 2005), Buddhist secularization in the post-Mao era (Zhe 2008),the commodification of Buddhism (Jing Yin 2006), Buddhism in ethnic identity discourses (Smyer Yu 2011), scientific Buddhism (McMahan 2008, Hammerstrom 2010) but lately also Buddhist inspired critiques of modernity (Murthy 2011, Meynard 2011), we ask ourselves the following questions when we investigate the development of Buddhisms in modern China:

If Buddhism fundamentally emphasizes freedom from suffering, why would modern Buddhists propose “humanistic Buddhism” (Taixu 1980) and “applied Buddhism” (Liang 1992), suggesting traditional Buddhist practices were disengaged from human society? How did the patriotism/nationalism of many leading Buddhist intellectuals affect the ways in which they reinterpreted Buddhist canonic teachings in their modern context? Why would later generations of “humanistic Buddhists” increasingly incorporate modern scientific terms into their discourse on Buddhism’s compatibility with modern society? While reconstruction of monasteries and an increasing number of visitors to them indicate the rapid revitalization of Buddhism in China, why do many Buddhist practitioners choose to congregate in private spaces instead of in monasteries? Under what circumstances are many of them embracing non-Chinese Buddhist traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism? While traditional forms of Buddhism are moving abroad, how are new forms of Buddhism, especially from the West, travelling to China and finding popularity there? Since the boundaries of the religious and the secular are increasingly found to be blurry and porous in the case of modern Buddhist practices, how relevant is it if we regard modern Buddhism in the plural sense as a product of the post-secular age as proposed by contemporary scholars? How did modern Chinese Buddhists and intellectuals inspired by Buddhism resist these developments and what does the nature and alleged failure of these cases of resistance tell us about China‘s engagement with secular modernity in general and the aforementioned new forms of Buddhist religiosity in particular.

We envision the outcome of this workshop as a volume of critical studies of Chinese Buddhism in two historical periods, namely the late Qing-Republic era, and contemporary China, which are commonly agreed historical time frames of China’s global encounters with other nations and its own internal transformations. By focusing on both periods and on both sides of the Taiwan straits, this volume will also help drawing connections between the pre- and post-49 history of modern Chinese Buddhism thus overcoming the artificial separation of 20th century Chinese Buddhism into two clearly separated periods and two seemingly unrelated Chinese territories.

For both periods, we encourage our contributors to focus on a) what we call “new religiosities” of Buddhism, and b) Buddhist inspired critique of modernity. These forces concur with social movements and cultural projects, such as the New Policy period of the 1900s, the New Culture Movement of the early 1910s and 20s, the movement re-emphasizing Chinese cultural subjectivity of the 1930s, whilst in the context of the ongoing globalization of China’s economy. To generate critical comparative implications of our intended volume, we ask our contributors adopt a transregional perspective informing our readers with a global context of changes in Buddhist worlds across the globe, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Tibet, North America, and Europe, in consideration of these long lasting key phrases in modern Buddhist studies – “Protestant Buddhism,” “socially engaged Buddhism,” “humanistic Buddhism,” and “modern Buddhism”. Qualitatively, these phrases find their corresponding social realities in China but in a divergent political context. Buddhism in modern China in this regard is undoubtedly plural in nature.

The last but the most important element of our book project is every contributor’s concerted effort to connect dots and draw lines between leading monastic scholars/activists and lay public intellectuals for the purpose of identifying the critical roles that they have played in the historical projects of nation-building, religion-science dialogue, and claiming a Buddhist moral superiority in the secular realm of China. We are all compelled to re-read and re-think their biographies and philosophical and often politically engaging treatises as embodiments of modern Buddhist history in China. Our goal is to share with our readers our critical interpretations of Buddhist modernity or modern Buddhisms in the making in the China context.

Dan Smyer Yü and Axel Schneider

Program & Schedule


14.05.14 Akademie Waldschlösschen, Göttingen
Participants' arrivals

14.05.14 16:00 - 18:00



Buddhism and Global Secularisms

DAVID MCMAHAN, Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA

Welcome drinks reception

14.05.14 18:30
Dinner at the Guesthouse

15.05.14 09:00 - 10:30


Panel 1: Re-visioning Buddhist Soteriology under Progress and State Secularism


Buddhist soteriology and the modern ideology of progress: 20th century Chinese reflections on the nature of the modern condition

AXEL SCHNEIDER, University of Göttingen


Interrogating Time Through Religion: The Cases of Modern Buddhism and Judaism

VIREN MURTHY, University of Ottawa


Mirror Image of the World: Buddhist Logic in Republican China

EYAL AVIV, George Washington University

10:30 - 11:00
Coffee and Tea break

11:00 - 12:30


Panel 2: Transregional Revitalization and New Communality of Buddhisms


Revisioning Tibetan Buddhism as a Science of the Mind in China

DAN SMYER YÜ, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen & KHENPO SODARGYE


“The Art of Living and Dying”: A Tibetan Spirituality in the Chinese Buddhist World

SOGYAL RINPOCHE & PATRICK GAFFNEY, Rigpa International and Tenzin Gyatso Institute

12:30 - 14:00

14:00 - 15:30


Panel 3: Social Engagement, Charity, and Human Flourishing  


Jingkong and Buddhist Modernity: A Master of Contradictions

SUN YANFEI, Tsinghua University


Buddhist Ideas for Cadaver Donations in Taiwan

C. JULIA HUANG, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

15:30 - 15:45
Coffee and Tea break

15:45 - 17:15


Panel 4: Gender, Power, and New Sangas  


Spreading a New Chan Culture: Reflections on the Revival of Chinese Buddhism

ALMUT-BARBARA RENGER, Freie Universitaet Berlin


A different Buddhist revival: The religious regeneration based on monastic discipline in Republican China

DANIELA CAMPO, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen



KATJA TRIPLETT, University of Göttingen

Shuttle pick-up

Dinner at Trattoria Salvatore (Theaterstrasse 10, 37073 Göttingen)

16.05.14 08:30 - 09:45


Beyond secularization theory? A topography of current debates in the sociology of religion

MATTHIAS KOENIG, University of Goettingen

09:45 - 10:15
Coffee and Tea Break

10:15 - 11:45


Concluding keynote

A "vanishing world'" of Chinese Buddhist practitioners?  Farewell to the twentieth century

RAOUL BIRNBAUM, University of California at Santa Cruz

11:45 - 12:30


Discussion of edited volume

Lunch at guesthouse

End of workshop & departures

Arif Dirlik




08.05.14 16:00 - 18:00 University of Göttingen, Room 0.138, Waldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen

King Kong in America: Confucianism, Religion, Democracy

The discussion critically engages two recent works on the Confucian revival in the People’s Republic of China, published by Princeton University Press, the one advocating a Confucian monarchy for the PRC, the other arguing or the universal relevance of Confucianism as a “world religion.” Barely disguised as works of scholarship, these works are ideologically loaded advocacies, the one explicitly attacking “Western” culture in general and democracy more specifically in the name of hierarchical authoritarianism, the other making a plea for a Confucian religion not just for the PRC but also for its English-speaking readership. Publication of works of questionable scholarship by a major university press, and the positive reception given to them, suggest some resonance with the anti-democratic and so-called post-secular turns in the United States and Europe.

About Arif Dirlik

Arif Dirlik lives in Eugene, OR, in semi-retirement. Dirlik taught at Duke University for thirty years as professor of history and anthropology before moving in 2001 to the University of Oregon where he served as Knight Professor of Social Science, Professor of History and Anthropology, and Director of the Center for Critical Theory and Transnational Studies. Dirlik’s works have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Bulgarian, French, German and Portuguese. His publications in English include, among many others, Revolution and History: Origins of Marxist Historiography in China, 1991-1937, Origins of Chinese Communism; Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution; Marxism in the Chinese Revolution; Schools Into Fields and Factories: Anarchists, the Guomindang and the Labor University in Shanghai, 1927-1932; After the Revolution: Waking to Global Capitalism; The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of Global Capitalism; Postmodernity’s Histories, Global Modernity: Modernity in the Age of Global Capitalism, and most recently, Culture and History in Postrevolutionary China: The Perspective of Global Modernity .

Yi Zheng




23.01.14 16:00 - 18:00 Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum (Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, Göttingen) Room 1.701 (Level 1)

Militancy and Dissidence: Radical Aesthetics and Radical Politics in the 20th Century

The late British historian Eric Hobsbawm characterized the twentieth century as the “Age of Extremes,” highlighting its unprecedented scale of destruction and violence (1996). Extremism, however, was not only the hallmark of the century’s totalitarian political projects, but also a recurrent feature of its radical literary and artistic movements, from the various avant-gardes of the first half of the century to the diverse aesthetic trends and experiments of its second half. Whether in the field of politics or that of the arts, the radical impulse was about intervening in an immediate, definitive and transformative manner. In this, its proponents were given to violence, the idea of shattering the existing systems, norms, and conventions, to make space for the new: new subjects, new forms of culture, new communities. This desire for total transformation at times made allies of the two, but it also set them against one another. The presentation will outline the trajectory of our project which investigates literary and intellectual militancy and dissidence in Germany and China in the last two thirds of the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the antagonism and mutual attraction between aesthetic and political radicalism. It will discuss the motivations and ideas behind the trajectory and its methodological implications. The key questions will be: how can we account for intellectual historically this remarkable alignment on a transnational scale, and what brings about its particular intensification and virulence in the twentieth century?

About Yi Zheng

Yi Zheng (PhD, the University of Pittsburgh) is Senior Lecturer and Convenor of Chinese Studies at the University of New South Wales. Her recent publications include: From Burke and Wordsworth to the Modern Sublime in Chinese Literature (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2011), Contemporary Chinese Print Media: Civility, Taste and Class (London: Routledge 2013), and Motion and Knowledge in the Changing Early Modern World: Orbits, Routes and Vessels, (Gal, Ofer and Yi Zheng eds. Dorchette: Springer 2013).

CETREN Launch Event


The exhibition venue at Paulinerkirche in Göttingen.

Visitors viewing Ma Kang's photograph of Kurban Bayram, the Feast of Sacrifice, being celebrated in Kashgar in 2004.

Mausoleum ruins on a cemetary in Turfan (2010). One of Ablet Semet's photographs documenting the fate of multi-religious architectural heritage in Xinjiang.

The photographers Ma Kang (left) and Ablet Semet.

The audience listens to the transregional Panel discussion on secularism in Europe and Asia.

Rupa Viswanath in the Panel.

Peter van der Veer talks about comparative trajectories of secularism in China and India.

Coffee break!


06.12.13 13:45 - 19:00 Venue: Paulinerkirche, Göttingen.

Launch Event of CETREN: The Politics of Secularism and the Emergence of New Religiosities

On December 6, 2013, CETREN celebrated its official launch event at Paulinerkirche in Göttingen. The Launch showcased CETREN’s pilot project, “The Politics of Secularism and the Emergence of New Religiosities”, which studies new forms and practices of religion under the conditions of secular governance across Asian and European states.

CETREN Project leaders, Prof. Srirupa Roy, Director of the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CEMIS) and Prof. Axel Schneider, Director of the Centre for Modern East Asian Studies (CEMEAS), welcomed over 60 invited guests from across the social sciences, area studies and humanities disciplines at the Göttingen Research Campus.

In addition to a panel discussion, guest speakers included Prof. John R. Bowen from the Washington University, St. Louis, who spoke on Shari`a legislation in the UK and Indonesia, and Prof. William Gould from the University of Leeds, whose lecture discussed the history of the secular Indian state. Prof. Peter van der Veer, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, delivered a talk on the value of comparison as a theoretical framework to understand religiosity in China and India.

The launch event was accompanied by a photo exhibition on the particularly current topic of Secular modernity and Uighur Muslim lives in Xinjiang. Showing recent work by artist Ma Kang and ethnologist Ablet Semet, the exhibition invited the audience to a visual conversation between two photographers whose lives and work are intimately connected with the question of ethnic and religious identities in a transregional Asia.



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