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Julian Strube, Dr.

Julian Strube, Dr.


  • Project coordinator, MC7 Political Legitimation.
  • Postdoctoral research fellow.

Contact information

Abteilung für Religionswissenschaft und Interkulturelle Theologie
Kisselgasse 1
69117 Heidelberg

+49 (0) 6221 54 3094

About Julian Strube

Research interests

European history of religions in the nineteenth and twentieth century; modernization and secularization.

Esotericism and New Religious Movements.

Religion and politics: Socialism; völkisch movements and Ariosophy; National Socialism; neo-Nazism and far-right extremism; totalitarianism.

Religion and science in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Theory and method in the Study of Religions.

PhD thesis: Socialism, Catholicism, and Occultism in Nineteenth-Century France. The Genealogy of the Writings of Eliphas Lévi

The nineteenth century is perceived as the century of modernization and secularization. It is generally understood that in France, the country of the Revolution and enlightenment, this period was determined by an antagonism between progressive reformist and reactionary religious forces that eventually resultet in the French laïcité. However, the most radical social reformers of the 1830s and 1840s, the socialists and communists, essentially based their theories on religious ideas and articulated decidedly religious identities. Due to the critical attitude towards religion expressed by those socialist currents prevailing after 1848, this circumstance has been eclipsed up to the present day. For this reason, the topic of "religion" remains widely neglected by scholarship on socialism.

The dissertation explores the relationship between socialism and religion under the July Monarchy, as well as its continuities in the second half of the nineteenth century. After the disastrous outcome of the February Revolution of 1848, numerous social reformers embraced new religious movements like Spiritism, or propagated their own religious systems. Those included the writings of the former French cleric and radical socialist Alphonse-Louis Constant (1810-1875) who founded a so-called occultisme under his pen name Eliphas Lévi. Despite the enormous influence that his "occultism" still exerts especially on esoteric actors, the context of its emergence remains largely unexplored.

Following a comprehensive historical contextualization of Constant's writings, the dissertation aims at showing that his "occultism" did not emerge in an "esoteric" context but as a direct result of socialist and so-called "neo-catholic" discourses of the 1830s and 1840s that revolved around the place, content and value of "religion" in post-revolutionary society as well as its relation to modern science and concepts of reason. In this course, general observations are made about the development of socialist currents and their respective religious identities that allow for new perspectives on "modernization" and "secularization" in the nineteenth century.


Curriculum vitae

September 2016-July 2017: Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam.

April 2016: Project on "Tantra and the Global Religious History of the 19th and 20th Century," funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

May 2015: Project Coordinator/Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context," MC7: "Political Legitimation," Heidelberg University.

April 2015: PhD (Dr. phil.) in the Study of Religions with high distinction (summa cum laude).

2011-2014: Work on PhD thesis with at scholarship by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes).

December 2010: Graduation, Magister Artium (grade 1,0).

July 2010: Magister thesis: "Vril. Zur Geschichte eines Begriffs im Kontext westlicher Esoterik."

2009-2010: Semester abroad at the University of Amsterdam.

2009-2011: Student assisant in the Department of the Study of Religions, Heidelberg University.

2008-2011: Scholarship by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes).

2008-2009: Student assistant in the Department of History (SFB 619 about "Ritual Dynamics," Prof. Dr. Bernd Schneidmüller), Heidelberg University.

2007-2010: Studies in Medieval/Modern History and the Study of Religions, Heidelberg University.

2005-2006: Studies in Medieval/Modern History and Philosophy, Heidelberg University.

Selected publications


Sozialismus, Katholizisimus und Okkultismus im Frankreich des 19. Jahrhunderts. Die Genealogie der Schriften von Eliphas Lévi, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter 2016.

Vril. Eine okkulte Urkraft in Theosophie und esoterischem Neonazismus, München/Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink 2013.


"Socialist Religion and the Emergence of Occultism: A Genealogical Approach to Socialism and Secularization in 19th-Century France," in: Religion 46/3, 2016, pp. 359-388.

"Socialism and Esotericism in July Monarchy France," in: History of Religions, forthcoming.

"Occultist Identity Formations Between Theosophy and Socialism in fin-de-siècle France," in: Numen, forthcoming.

"Revolution, Illuminismus und Theosophie. Eine Genealogie der ‚häretischen‘ Historiographie des frühen französischen Sozialismus und Kommunismus," in: Historische Zeitschrift, forthcoming.

"Transgressing Boundaries. Social Reform, Theology, and the Demarcations between Science and Religion," in: Aries 16/1, 2016, pp. 1-11.

"Eliphas Lévi. Lucifer as Revolutionary and Redeemer," in: Faxneld, Per & Nilson, Johan (Hrsg.), Satanism: A Reader, New York et al.: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

"Nazism and the Occult", in: Christopher Partridge (Hrsg.), The Occult World, London/New York: Routledge 2015, pp. 336-347.

"Ein neues Christentum. Frühsozialismus, Neo-Katholizismus und die Einheit von Religion und Wissenschaft", in: Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 66/2 , 2014, pp. 140-162.

"Die Erfindung des esoterischen Nationalsozialismus im Zeichen der Schwarzen Sonne", in: Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 20/2, 2012, pp. 223-268.

Editorial Work

Aries 16/1, 2016, Special issue: Transgressing Boundaries.

Reviews and Minor Contributions

"René Gründer, Blótgemeinschafen. Eine Religionsethnografie des ‘germanischen Neuheidentums’", in: Aries 13/2, 2013, pp. 317-321.


Interview with WDR about "National Socialism and Religion" (in German).

Interview with REMID about esoteric neo-Nazism (in German).

Interview with REMID about socialism and occultism (in German).