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DFG Funding for Religious History Project

01. Nov. 2015

Prof. Michael Bergunder and Julian Strube from project MC7.1 "Religion and Politics" have been successful with an application at the German Research Foundation (DFG). Starting in 2016, they will conduct research within the newly funded project on "Tantra and the global religious history of the 19th and 20th century".

The project aims at reconstructing the genealogy of a philosophical Tantra that distances itself from sexual practices, within the context of contemporary debates about the relationship between science and religion. This reconstruction will be carried out in the context of a global religious history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will focus on the British colonial judge, esotericist and Tantra scholar John Woodroffe (1865-1936). An extensive analysis of Woodroffe's writings will seek to elaborate his understandings of Tantra, religion and science in the contexts of Indology/Religionswissenschaft, Advaitic Neo-Hinduism, esotericism and Bengali Reform-Tantra. Following on from this, theosophical discourses about Tantra in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on which Woodroffe depended, will be discussed, in order to understand his ideas as a product of previous global exchanges. On this basis, the double reception of Woodroffe in science and esotericism from the first half of the twentieth century onward will be examined.

The project is located at the Department of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology of the Faculty of Theology, Heidelberg University. Starting in 2016 with a research grant by the German Research Foundation, it is coordinated by Prof. Michael Bergunder and Julian Strube.

Prof. Dr. Michael Bergunder is Professor for the History of Religions and Mission Studies at Heidelberg University and coordinator of MC7 "Political Legitimation" and MC7.1 ""Religion and Politics" and "Church and State": a Dichotomous Language of Legitimation". Julian Strube is postdoctoral research fellow of project MC7. He graduated in the Study of Religions from Heidelberg University in April 2015. His research focuses on European history of religions in the 19th and 20th century, esotericism and new religious movements, as well as the relationship between religion and politics.


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  • Tantric Feast LACMA M.77.63.1 (Wikimedia Commons)