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Joint Workshop 2016: World Views, Religions, and Cultural Development



July 26 - 27, 2016 | Freie Universitaet Berlin, Seminarzentrum, Room L115, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

It is evident that the dynamics of cultural change differ in terms of speed and direction, depending on the period and the respective cultural communities involved. One of the most important questions in the field of cultural theory is this: are we, as scholars, only able to describe these differences, or is it also possible to suggest specific reasons for them?

Beginning with the development of Humanist thought, and perpetuated by Hegel and his many followers in 20th century cultural theory, traditional research assumed that general worldviews – cosmic as well as anthropological models – determine the potential evolution and progress of a given society. The dissemination of these views among the members of cultural communities is assumed to take place by way of ‘religions’. In this perspective, the latter are conceived of as re-concretizations of ‘world models’ (in many cases by way of narrative).

The topics addressed in the context of this workshop circle around the question of the extent to which specific cultural developments might interrelate with worldviews and religious concepts. If the ‘religious hypothesis’ is found to be questionable, what alternatives do we have to explain the differing dynamics in cultural developments?

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Tuesday, July 26

  • 09:30 - 11:00   
    Joachim Küpper (Freie Universität Berlin): Welcome and Introduction
  • 10:00 - 11:30
    Michael Puett (Harvard): Rethinking Worldviews and Religions: Comparative Reflections from China
  • 11:30 - 13:00   
    Bernard Heyberger (EHESS): Permanence, change and connectivity in the history and historiography of the Eastern Christians
  • 14:00 - 15:30    
    Racha Kirakosian (Harvard): Material Culture and Mystical Texts
  • 16:00 - 17:30    
    Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann (Freie Universität Berlin): The Problem of Theodicy. On the Aporias of Enlightenment

Wednesday, July 27

  • 10:30 - 12:00    
    Puay-peng Ho (CUHK): Identity and Hegemony: The Silk Route and the Transmission of Religions in 5th-10th Century China
  • 13:30 - 15:00   
    Yfaat Weiss (HUJI): Political Sovereignty and Cultural Property: The Mount Scopus Enclave in Jerusalem
  • 15:30 - 17:00    
    Ekaterina Boltunova (HSE Moskau): Imperial Throne Halls and Discourse of Power in the Topography of Early Modern Russia (late 17th–18th Centuries)
  • 17:00 - 17:45
    Closing Discussion