Religion and Culture - Research axes Faculty of Arts

Religion & Culture

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Antwerp fosters a strong research tradition in several domains of religious study: philosophy of religion, religious history, the study of mysticism and devotion, linguistic and historical research of the three monotheist ‘religions of the book’. Religion & Culture integrates this existing body of research in an interdisciplinary research platform for a study of religion from a philosophical, historical and textual-literary perspective.

The following research questions are given special attention: Which are the cognitive and emotional conditions of religion as an anthropological phenomenon? What is the impact of secularisation of worldviews on the individual religions? Which ethical and political challenges are posed by religion on today’s liberal society? What role does religion play in shaping cultural identities? What function do the written word and the sacred book have in religions, and how does religious textual tradition influence literature and the arts? Which position does spirituality have in religions and how do contemporary forms of religious experience (mysticism, devotion, traditionalism) relate to their history?

Interdisciplinary research

Religion & Culture is the project of researchers at the Faculty of Arts connected to the following institutes and research groups:

Additionally, the project can count on collaboration with research groups at other faculties and departments of the University of Antwerp: Urban Studies Institute, Centre Pieter Gillis, and the Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS) and CRESC – Centre for Research and Environmental and Social Change. UCSIA – University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp – functions as an external privileged partner from outside the University of Antwerp.

Thematic clusters

Religion & Culture stimulates scholarly research on religion as a ‘lived experience’, and situates that research in a framework existing of the following thematic clusters:

1. Religion in practice

Study of religious objects, e.g. books, texts, illustrations and other devotional objects, and their circulation in society; attention for the agents in the field of religion: producers (e.g. printers), regulators and censors, the faithful, charismatic figures; research on religious practices, e.g. pilgrimages, ritual, religious law and sacred places.

2. Religion and text

Unlocking and interpreting religious texts in their original contexts; impact and appropriation of religious texts in new contexts; thematic research: the relationship between mysticism and language; religious motifs in literature; the status and development of religious law, interreligious relationships; the status of religious texts in modern cultures.

3. Religion and the self

Religion and identity; spirituality as a ‘technology of the self’; mysticism as self-annihilation; unio mystica and coincidentia oppositorum; anthropology of religious experience; religious emotions and the cognitive dimensions of faith.

4. Religion and society

Religion in (post-)secular societies; religion and the liberal political society; standardisation with regards to religious groups; religion in contexts of migration, colonialism and post-colonialism.

5. Religion and modernity

Enlightenment critique of religion; relationship between rationalism and religion; political theology, secularization theories; religion and the arts; the sacred and the holy; the status of religious belief and contemporary cognitive science of religion; the relationship between religion and science.

Interdisciplinary Research Projects and outreach

Research projects

Public Outreach