| Max-Weber-Kolleg, Philosophische Fakultät, Forschung, International

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award enables Lucian N. Leustean to spend time researching at the University of Erfurt

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has awarded Lucian N. Leustean, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Aston University in Birmingham (UK) with the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award this spring. The award enables Professor Leustean to pursue his research on religion and in particular on Orthodox Christianity in Eastern and Southeastern Europe at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt.

The internationally renowned scholar is planning several short-term research stays at the University of Erfurt over the next two years. During this time, he will continue work on a project entitled "Forced Displacement, Geopolitics, and State Failure in the Eastern Orthodox World." His material draws on the findings of his recent British Academy projects and 70 interviews conducted with clergy, religious practitioners, and state officials working with displaced populations in Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. The interdisciplinary project is of interest to both the academic and political worlds, not least in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the large number of displaced people from Eastern Europe.

"The topic is not only relevant for religious studies. Through my research stays in Erfurt, I hope to establish further contacts with colleagues working on such or related topics, such as at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy or the Max-Weber-Kolleg."

the political scientist is looking forward to the interdisciplinary cooperation.

Lucian N. Leustean's research examines, among other things, the multifaceted role of religion in political developments, geopolitical issues, and international relations, such as the political mobilization of religious networks in the establishment of the European Community from the 1950 Schuman Declaration to the 1979 European Parliament elections, or the incursion of nationalism into the Orthodox Churches of Eastern and Southeastern Europe from the 19th century to the present. One of his special areas of research is Orthodox Christianity in Eastern and Southeastern Europe during the Cold War and post-communist periods. He is also the editor of the renowned book series "Religion, Society and Government in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet States" published by Routledge (London/New York). With transdisciplinary and groundbreaking research linking different academic disciplines, he demonstrates how cutting-edge research in social and cultural sciences has developed in the field of religion. His latest publication, the massive (880 pages) Oxford Handbook of Religion and Europe (2021), co-edited with renowned sociologist of religion Grace Davie, has attracted considerable attention beyond academia. It was officially presented in a public event at the European Parliament, among other places, and translations into other European languages are already in the works. Prof. Leustean was nominated for the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by Vasilios N. Makrides, holder of the professorship in Religious Studies (Orthodox Christianity) at the University of Erfurt.

"I am very much looking forward to this further collaboration in the area of connections between religion, geopolitics, international relations and current security issues across the European continent. These are red-hot topics that have recently become the focus of general attention in Europe due to the ongoing war in Ukraine."

underlines Professor Vasilios N. Makrides.

About the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award

The research award, named after the German astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846), is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The award is granted annually by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to about 20 internationally recognised scientists from abroad. In addition to the award money of 45,000 EUR, the award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice at a scientific institution in Germany together with their colleagues there. The research stay of 6 to 12 months can be divided into different periods. A nomination for the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award can be initiated by proven scientists at a research institution in Germany.