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Young Researchers Met at Kyoto University

Mar 06, 2015

Outstanding young researchers from Asia, Latin America and Europe gathered at Kyoto University from 9 to 18 March to attend Heidelberg University’s Santander International Winter School. The basic idea behind the Winter School was developed by Prof. Hans Martin Krämer and Dr. Orion Klautau from the Cluster's research project MC7 "Political Legitimation".

Under the title “What Is Caesar’s, What Is God’s? A Transcultural Perspective on the Legitimation of the Political and Religious Spheres”, 20 PhD students explored the concept of religion from a transcultural perspective. The winter school was funded by Santander Universities and co-coordinated by Kyoto University.

“The winter school focuses on the concept of religion. In the 19th century, a new understanding of what is, and is not, a legitimate ‘religion’ changed the terms of the relationship between religions and states throughout the world. Widespread governmental interference in religious institutions ensued. Yet at the same time, new models of social intercourse also arose, such as the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion or laicism. The recent events in Paris and Copenhagen clearly show just how problematic navigating these waters is, even to this day,” explains Prof. Dr. Hans Martin Krämer from the Institute for Japanese Studies of Heidelberg University, who developed the concept for this year’s winter school together with Dr. Orion Klautau from the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” and Prof. Dr. Yutaka Tanigawa from the Department of Japanese History at Kyoto University. Hans Martin Krämer and Orion Klautau are working together within the Cluster's research project MC7 "Political Legitimation".

In addition to researchers from Heidelberg, experts from Germany, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Japan, Singapore and the USA participated in the event. A wide-ranging programme of lectures, presentations and a visit to various religious sites in Kyoto was attended the 20 PhD candidates.

The winter school opened with a public lecture by historian Prof. Dr. Prasenjit Duara of the National University of Singapore entitled “How Relevant is the Concept of Secularism to Asia?”. Prof. Duara discussed the question of what role the concept of secularism, which had a major influence on history in the West, plays in Asia and especially in China. Against the backdrop of the forthcoming anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, historian Prof. Dr. Hartmut Lehmann of Kiel University discussed Martin Luther as the theological founder of this church reform movement and its significance in the present. His lecture was entitled “The Quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation in an Age of Secularization and Religious Pluralism”. Winter school workshop topics included “Religion and Education in Modern Secular Societies”, “Laicism in France” and “Christian Missions in Latin America and Asia”. The eleven-day event closed with presentations by the participants of their research.

Within the cooperation with Banco Santander, Heidelberg University receives funding from Santander Universidades Global Division for holding international summer and winter schools for participants from Latin America, Europe and Asia. These events are held alternatively at the Heidelberg Center for Latin America in Santiago de Chile, the Heidelberg Center of South Asia in New Delhi, India, the International Science Forum Heidelberg, and – now for the first time – at a university in Japan.


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  • Group of participants (Photo by ŌMORI Takao)

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