Aktuelle Veranstaltungen

Konferenzen, Tagungen und Workshops

Workshop Aesthetics and affects of power in the context of religion

May 11-13, 2022

University of Erfurt, Germany

To disable and enable in colonial and other contexts did and does not only mean “control of the economy, the political, and knowledge, but also control over the senses and perception”(Mignolo and Velazqez 2013). Religious practices and discourses took and take an especially important role in creating sensory mechanisms that structure power relations by shaping perception via aesthetics and affects. The sensory power mechanisms outlive religious practices and expand beyond the religious sphere; they become alive in the body of the aesthetically affected. This workshop aims to understand—by case studies and theoretical reflection—how these sensory mechanisms function in different (religious) contexts, such as (post)colonial contact zones and global religious and spiritual practices and movements; how they relate and intertwine with intersectional discourses and practices, such as racism, whiteness, (s)exoticization, secularization; and how they affect the scholarly practice of the study of religion.

Program Workshop Aesthetics and affects of power in the context of religion


Religious conversion is as elusive as it is topical in the contemporary world, where religious identifications and narratives have returned to the fore of political rhetoric and social scientific enquiry. Both the common-sense idea and the scientific notion of “conversion” start from the premise that “religion” and “religious identity” are stable entities.  But in contemporary societies, the idea of a stable religious identity is increasingly questioned through religious pluralism, bricolage mentality, and expressive social identities. This raises a number of questions as to what constitutes a religious conversion and to what extent contemporary religious conversions conform to those of the past.

These questions and others will be approached from a variety of angles at a summer school addressed to graduate students (from advanced MA level to PhD) from a variety of disciplines, including Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Political Science, and others.  It will take place in Erfurt, Germany from 11. to 15. July, 2022 at the Augustinian Monastery, where Martin Luther started his career as a recently converted Catholic monk. The summer school is organised by Dr. Sebastian Rimestad (Leipzig), Prof. Dr. Katharina Waldner (Erfurt), and Dr. Helena Kupari (Helsinki) and will include participant presentations, workshops, lectures, and an excursion. For confirmed participants, all expenses are covered, including travel (up to € 750), accommodation and food.

In order to participate, please send a motivation letter of 1-2 pages to summerschoolconversion(at)uni-leipzig.de by 31. January, 2022

The letter must include

  • your educational background
  • your current affiliation and place of residence (to calculate travel costs)
  • your current research field and how this relates to the topic of conversion
  • the title of your presentation for the summer school, including a short abstract

For further information, please visit https://www.gkr.uni-leipzig.de/religionswissenschaftliches-institut/summer-school/ or send an e-mail to summerschoolconversion(at)uni-leipzig.de

We look forward to the Summer School, which will hopefully be an opportunity to meet in person after a long period of uncertainty due to CoVid-19, opening up for a fruitful exchange of ideas and perspectives and bringing the study of religious conversion forward!

Sebastian Rimestad, Katharina Waldner, and Helena Kupari


„Religion am Montag“| Erfurt Monday Lectures: New Topics in Religious Studies


Monday June, 20 2022 17:00 Uhr/ 5pm

Laura von Ostrowski (München) with a Response by Lina Aschenbrenner (München)

Booklaunch: A Text in Motion: the Yogasūtra as a Practice Element in Ashstanga Yoga – a Historical, Religious-Aesthetic and Ethnographic Study

The book focuses on contemporary yoga philosophy and is situated between cultural studies of religion, aesthetics of religion and Indology. What is currently called yoga philosophy and taught in yoga teacher trainings is related to an ancient Indian text called Yogasūtra, but emerged in its modern manifestations in the early 20th century through cultural exchange between colonized India and the West. Of great relevance to this were, among others, the South Indian yoga teacher Śri Tirumalai Kṛṣṇamācārya and his disciple, the Ashtanga Yoga founder Pattabhi Jois, whose teachings are closely analyzed in the historical part of the book, drawing on previously unnoticed publications and new empirical data. The brief recourse to pre-colonial history traces how the Yogasūtra, which in its commentarial tradition was not concerned with physical exercise, has been increasingly associated with various practices in Indian culture since the 17th century. This culminated in the contemporary view, found for example in the environment of Ashtanga Yoga developed by Jois, that the ancient Indian yoga text and the modern body practice called yoga are inextricably intertwined. The analysis of historical as well as empirical data reveals six primary characteristics of contemporary yoga philosophy. One of them is its strong orientation towards a physical practice, which has been perceived by former yoga research rather as a deviant development from the classical textual exegesis tradition of the Yogasūtra and has not been studied systematically based on a recent case study. To address this task, the book builds on empirical fieldwork in the philosophy classes of an advanced Ashtanga Yoga training in Germany. Qualitative data was generated with a plurality of methods, observant participation as well as qualitative interviews with yoga philosophy experts and laypersons, audio records and field notes. Furthermore, the notion of body knowledge is employed to as well consider the impact of physical practices on the development of contemporary yoga philosophy.”


Laura von Ostrowski studied Indology, Religious Studies and Romance Studies at LMU Munich. From 2015-2018 she was a fellow of the DFG Research Training Group "Presence and Implicit Knowledge" at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg and received her PhD in Religious Studies from LMU in 2021. For the Open Access publication of the book on her thesis, "A Text in Motion", she was funded by Open Publishing in the Humanities. Her areas of research include modern and contemporary yoga, the reception of the Yogasūtra, the history of German yoga and of the physical culture movement, contemporary religion, aesthetics and embodiment.

Lina Aschenbrenner received her PhD from the Paris-Lodron-University Salzburg with a thesis on "The Gaga Effect – A Body-Focused Ethnography on the Aesthetics and Body Knowledge of a Neo-Spiritual Israeli Movement Practice“. From 06/2021 to 06/2022 she was a postdoctoral reserach fellow at the Departent of Religious Studies at University of Erfurtfunded by a program of the state Thuringia to support outstanding young female scholars. Her current research focuses on the aesthetics of contemporary Hawaiian hula dance and its worldwide appropriations as global field of spiritual practices of worldview impact.


 https://uni-erfurt.webex.com/meet/ katharina_waldner

Classics for Breakfast


Friday June, 24 2022 9:00 Uhr/9 am

Alexandra Trachsel (Erfurt): "Bunte Collage und ausgewählte Erinnerungen: Wie Claudius Aelianus Athen in seinen Werken skizziert"

Athen war auch in der Kaiserzeit ein berühmtes Bildungszentrum und Anziehungspunkt für Sophisten und Intellektuelle aller Art. Seine Philosophenschulen und die lange Tradition als rhetorische Ausbildungsstätte wurden bewundert und Athen war nicht nur sprachlich ein Vorbild geworden. Aber wie stellte man sich dieses Vorbild vor? Welche Merkmale prägten das Stadtbild, das man sich von diesem intellektuellen Zentrum machte? Und schließlich welche Bauten oder Orte wurden genannt um die Stadt zu skizzieren? Denn jede Beschreibung eines Ortes basiert auf einem Auswahlverfahren, da nicht jede räumlich Erfahrung in die Beschreibung mitaufgenommen werden kann. Die Texte des Claudius Aelianus werden uns erlauben, diese Fragen an einem Fallbeispiel zu besprechen.

Alexandra Trachsel ist Annemarie Schimmel Stipendiatin am Historischen Seminar. Ihr derzeitiges Forschungsvorhaben widmet sich den Zitaten und den Zitiertechniken als Teil von Wissenstransfer. Insbesondere geht es um die Rolle der Buntschriftstellerei in diesem Prozess und ihren Umgang mit altem tradiertem Wissen.

Friday 9 - 10 am online

Link to the event (we start 9.00 s.t.!): https://uni-erfurt.webex.com/meet/katharina_waldner

Johanna Leithoff (Antike Kultur)

Katharina Waldner (Allgemeine Religionswissenschaft)



IFR-Ringvorlesung im Wintersemester 2018/19 „Religion und Gender: Konstruktionen – Medien – Erfahrungen
„Asymptoten des Unaussprechlichen“ – Aisthetische Erfahrung in kollektiven religiösen Praktiken 8./9. Juni 2018