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Congress Patronage
Minister President of Thuringia welcomes you to Erfurt

We are proud and happy to announce today that the Minister President of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, the head of the federal state of Thuringia, accepted patronage of the XXI Quinquennial World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). His patronage of the Congress mirrors the relevance the subject of Religious Studies has at the University of Erfurt with the key Focus Research area "Religion", to which a multitude of projects at the Philosophical and Catholic-Theological Faculties, as well as the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies belong.

XXI IAHR World Congress Committees
Honorary Advisory Committee

Congress organizers are proud and happy to announce that the Honorary Advisory Committee has now been established.

The Honorary Advisory Committee constitutes of distinguished scholars and lifetime members of the IAHR.

Their task is to aid and advise Congress organizers in the general planning and running of the Congress.

Learn more about the Honorary Advisory Committee.

Dynamics of Religions: Past and Present
Dynamics of Religions: Past and Present

Religion is a human, historical, social and cultural phenomenon. As such, religious ideas, practices, discourses, institutions, and social expressions are constantly in processes of change.

The Congress will address the processes of change, the dynamics of religions past, present, and future, on several interconnected levels of analysis and theory, namely that of the individual, community and society, practices and discourses, beliefs, and narrations. These will be addressed within four areas:

Religious communities in society: Adaptation and transformation

Embedded within complex cultures, characterized by social change and intercultural exchange, religious communities constantly adapt to their changing environments, developing practices, discourses, and institutions conceptualized as “religion”. These concepts are subject to social and cultural influences. They also shape political and economic environments. Religious traditions are invented and reinvented, imperceptibly transformed, violently reformed or emphatically defended. How, then, do religious communities and institutions adapt to cultural change? How do they affect social change? Does interreligious contact and dialogue lead to religious change? How do religious communities react to the possibilities and threats of new media? Does globalization transform public religions? To what extent do states and public law affect religions?

Practices and discourses: Innovation and tradition

Founding figures, schisms and revivals characterize the dynamics of religion in past and present. Institutions develop or are dissolved. This, again, poses questions: How are religious traditions established, standardized and canonized? What are the mechanisms and agents of religious innovation? How do religious traditions repel religious change? How is sacred time and space established? Does religious individualization lead to innovation? What are the mechanisms of transformation and innovation of rituals and other practices? Do rituals create and perpetuate religious traditions? Are new religious movements or esoteric currents innovative? Does fundamentalism protect religious traditions? Does the internet lead to religious innovation? What are the dynamics of gender traditions?

The individual: Religiosity, spiritualities and individualization

Individuals, too, are agents of change. Privatization, patchwork religiosity and religious deviance are not restricted to the present. Can “religiosity” or “spirituality”, popular in many contemporary self-descriptions, be used as descriptive terms of our metalanguage? Under what circumstances do individuals obey or deny religious traditions? How and why do individuals converse, or gradually change their religious convictions and affiliations? How can plural religious identities or patchwork religiosities be explained, what effects do they have on religious traditions? How important are religious experiences in religions? What are individual reasons for religious deviance? How do religions control the individual? Is the privatization of religion a modern phenomenon? Do biographic developments explain individual religiosity?

Methodology: Representations and interpretations

Religious change is registered and narrated by outsiders and insiders. Emic representations influence academic interpretations. Scholarly paradigms and theories are therefore as dynamic as their object. Which master narratives about religious change need to be revised? What is the current status of the secularization debate? Is there some scientific value in old paradigms of religious change (e.g. decline, fall, rise, axial age)? How can theories of cultural and religious evolution be applied in historical sciences? How do new approaches in historiography conceptualize religious change (e.g. entangled or transcultural history, postcolonial history, discourse analysis, cognitive approaches)?

Proposals for panels and papers within and across the areas outlined are welcome.


Aiming at a Net Zero Carbon Footprint

myclimate Germany

The IAHR 2015 World Congress partners with myclimate to aim at a net zero carbon footprint.

Myclimate is a Swiss-based foundation supporting and developing worldwide projects to reduce CO2 emissions. Their projects support and further efforts in wind, water and solar energy, energy efficiency, methane reduction, bio gas projects and clean water projects in numerous developing and industrial nations. The projects support sustainable development, creating new jobs and income opportunities and thus improving living conditions among the local population while raising life standards.

Myclimate aims to protect our climate and sponsor sustainable development. All international projects conform to strict Gold Standard ® guidelines and are subject to UN inspection.

A Green Fee will be included in the Congress fee to support myclimate-sponsored projects.

Learn more about myclimate and their projects.

Welcome to the Webpages of the XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions
The XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions

XXI World Congress 2015, Erfurt

 The XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions will takle place in Erfurt, Germany, August 23-29, 2015. The Congress addresses the Dynamics of Religion, Past and Present. Religion as a human, historical, social and cultural phenomenon allows for constant processes of change of religious ideas, practices, discourses, institutions, and social expressions. The Congress will address these processes of change on several interconnected levels and sublevels of analysis and theory. 

A first Call for Papers and Panels will be posted on our site.

Organized by a local team and with the support of the German affiliate association to the IAHR, the DVRW (German Association for the History of Religions), the Congress will take place at Erfurt University campus. 

Watch our page and like us on Facebook for the latest news and developments in the run-up to the 2015 Congress!






   Erfurt University

Thuringia Tourism - holiday (vacation) and travel in Thuringia

The XXI IAHR World Congress cooperates with Thuringia Tourism in booking the Congress and providing accommodation and the Congress tours.

The IAHR 2015 World Congress partners with myclimate to aim at a net zero carbon footprint.