Thomas Sojer presents a working paper on ‚Apocalypse of the Cross‘

The apocalypse of the cross radically recalibrates the totality of all self-world relationships. It is the consequence of a disruption that is as life-changing as it is unavailable. Because of the apocalypse of the cross, Paul worked from the previously unknown and ‘foolish’ gospel of the cross to the previously known and, crucially, misunderstood scripture. For Irenaeus, scripture was previously like a myth but once brought to light by the cross it becomes the very flesh of Christ. Yet, these theologies of the cross in antiquity as well as in (late) modernity do not merely consist in interpreting the cross as such, but in interpreting by means of the cross the contemporary world, society, and most importantly one’s own cruciform conditio humana. The leftist political theorist Simone Weil experienced the apocalypse of the cross herself through the aesthetic performance of liturgy. However, Weil’s concept of the cross takes on a monstrous character. Imagined as a rape, the cross, for Weil, is bottomless affliction endured by a completely surrendered God facing the virtual omnipotence of evil. Within this tension, the paper portrays the fracture between a pre-modern ‘God certainty’ and a growing spiritual crisis of the modern and even more radicalized late modern religious habitus.

Sanam Roohi gives a working paper on ‚Telugu associations in the US: Caste differentiation and diasporic politics in a transregionally connected social field‘

American Telugu associations, built as a cultural platform to unite spatially dispersed Telugu diaspora have become key political intermediaries linking the US with Andhra and Telangana’s political landscape. Although the term Telugu point to their larger linguistic basis of membership, the caste character of these associations is reflected in the way particular communities exercise control of these associations and the alignments of these associations with caste affiliated political parties in India. In this paper I argue that these diasporic Telugu organisations are performing the role of caste associations, albeit in a refashioned way: as in colonial times, they work to make caste relevant, but now in a globalising milieu. Caste associations, a product of colonial modernity and increasing urbanisation have worked for the dynamically defined ‘interests’ of the community, which changes over time. While in colonial times, caste associations worked to unite sub-jatis, achieve upward mobility in the caste hierarchy, and wrest concessions from the British government, in post-independence era, their tryst with democratic politics have been lauded by scholars. With transnational migration and a sense of disintegration of community and cultural values among migrants in the USA, I argue that it is organizations like TANA and ATA that take up the project of building caste based community cohesiveness transnationally even as they attempt to become political mediators in local politics in India. In doing so, associational politics create a transnational social field where carefully crafted and performed caste differentiation between the two major caste groups – Kammas and Reddys pan out. Whereas Reddys and Kammas often see each other as opponents or rivals, they also regard themselves as the only two legitimate caste groups who can represent Telugus both in America and in Andhra. Therefore, the associational politics in the diaspora also point to how Reddy-Kamma rivalry has subsumed the political possibilities of other caste groups within a trans-regionally connected social field.

Armin Unfricht presents a working paper on ‚The Athenian Tyrannicides – A case study‘

In this paper, I apply the previously developed theoretical framework of my thesis – the sociological concept of the “Sacred”, as well as certain aspects of the “collective-” or “cultural memory”-theory derived from the historical and cultural sciences – to a first case-study, namely the Athenian “Tyrannicides”, Harmodios and Aristogeiton. Focal points of my research were the socio-political implications and forms of representation (narrative, material, ritualistic-performative) of the hero-cult in question.

Daniele Miano presents a working paper on ‚Liber, Fufluns, and the others: rethinking Dionysus in Italy between the fifth and the third centuries BCE‘

In response to a dossier of different theonyms and iconographic profiles for a set of gods in central Italy from the 5th–3rd centuries that correspond to
Dionysus, this chapter considers the relationship between Fufluns, Liber, Hiaco (and other by-forms) with reference to two main concepts.(a) Translation: based on the work of Jan Assman, Homi Bhabha and others, we may investigate to what extent these divine forms were ‘translations’ or ‘interpretations’ of a Greek archetype. (b) Multiplicity: following the work of Versnel, Henrichs and others, we may consider the cluster of gods under the rubric of religious polymorphism: was Dionysus one god or many? The chapter argues for the fragmentation of Dionysus in Italy in the 5th–3rd centuries, and for the significance of local myths and forms of worship of the god as against a generalized ‘Roman’ standard. The discussion focusses on two case studies, Vulci in Etruria and Praeneste in Latium, with particular reference to local colour. The Etruscan evidence surveyed comprises epigraphic and iconographic attestations of Fufluns Paχie on fifth-century ceramics and a fourth-century mirror respectively. Praenestine evidence analysed includes bronze mirrors and cistae which depict Fufluns, L(e)iber and Hiaco. In conclusion it addresses the significance of the fragmentation of Dionysus in Italy for the interpretation
of the Bacchanalian affair of 186 BCE.

Dietmar Mieth gives a working paper on ‚Not at one´s disposition – Inaccessibility‘

The thesis of this contribution – resulting from an oral presentation in the City of Bochum where I have lived since 2017 – , focuses  on  the connection between the dramatic loss of members in  the Christian Churches  in Europe on the one hand and the preoccupation with the relevance of “religious” feelings in the society on the other side, detected and elaborated   by sociologists like Latour, Joas, Rosa. This approach seems – for me – to be very near to the project of “Weltbeziehung” which promotes some approaches in the Max Weber Institute. My intention is to identify and discuss some of the  roots of this contemporary “religious” sensitivity in the medieval tradition of mysticism and especially in the literary reception of Meister Eckhart in the first half of the 20th century.

Gabriel Malli is going to present a working paper on ‚Media – Subjectivities – Religion. Theoretical reflections on subjectivity discourses in religious media‘

The present paper proposes a basic conceptual framework for my thesis and can be considered a first draft for a theory part. In the first section, I review sociological approaches to media – mainly from the field of Cultural Studies –, focusing on the level of media text. In the second part, I deal with theoretical conceptions of subjectivities und subjectivation in (post-structuralist) cultural sociology and try to link them to the approaches reviewed in the first part. Drawing from praxeological concepts of religion, I deal with the construction of “subject models” – understood as templates for desirable and legitimate subjectivities – in religious (media) discourse in the final part.

Bettina Hollstein presents a working paper on ‚The Role of Corporations in the Great Transformation in a Pragmatist Perspective‘

In order to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
we need a new great transformation as conceptualized by Polanyi,
reintegrating and re-embedding different spheres like the economy,
society, politics and science. This great transformation is merely a
moral project including technological, economical, institutional and
cultural processes. Different actors are part of this project, such as,
civil society, science and corporations. In this paper, I want to focus on
the role of corporations as change agents within the Great
The SDG are, in this respect, the moral compass (Schneidewind
2018) for the Transformation, but the true question is what makes
corporations start to go in the direction the compass shows. To answer
this question, I want to use a pragmatist framework relating on Hans
Joas’ work on action theory in an interdisciplinary manner. I want to
investigate when and how change agents have an impact on societal
change by taking a close look at the interdependencies of individual
and collective action, rational and emotional aspects, intended and
non-intended results etc.