Cultural diversity in Europe is characterized by religious affiliations and practices. At the Ludwig Uhland Institute (LUI) research focuses in particular on the history of piety, popular religion, Jewish Studies, and on material religion. Within the context of Cultural Studies, religion is understood first and foremost as a cultural expression that can take many forms. With this in mind, we do not pass any judgements regarding theological correctness or religious beliefs, but rather we look at change, linkages, and creativity. Researchers in the field of Historical and Cultural Anthropology are interested both in everyday religiosity that does not adhere strictly to institutional stipulations and also in the practice of religion that is associated with a particular religious identity, whether it is Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or secular in nature. Within the field, researchers focus on the range of traditions that can be found in Europe, and on the material culture and esthetics associated with them: objects, images, music, spaces, practices involving the body, and the emotionality of religious practitioners.
With an initial focus on the category “history of piety,” research on religious practice at the interface between belief and tradition has been an element of the work carried out by many instructors at LUI since the beginning. From the 1970s to the 1990s, articles on the culture of religious denominations in the region (Protestant, Catholic and Jewish) and within the context of secularization were written by, in particular, Utz Jeggle, Gottfried Korff, Christel Köhle-Heizinger, and Martin Scharfe. Beginning in 2000, Korff directed a number of research projects in the context of CRC 437 (“Experiences of War”) on popular religiosity in times of war. Since 2011, Monique Scheer has been responsible for the area of religion at LUI, with a focus on the visuality, mediality and emotionality of religious and secular practices, and on religious diversity in Germany.