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Abstract

With regards to the religious situation, Germany still is a highly divided country. This draws our attention to the specific characteristics of IRD-activities in the eastern parts of Germany. Based on literature review and mapping exercises, we will argue, firstly, that the interreligious dialogue scene in East Germany is characterized by a comparatively low density of activities that are primarily embedded into major religious and state-related organizational structures. Secondly, we will discuss potential explanations of this lower dialogue level with regards to present-day socio-cultural differences and asymmetries between East and West Germany. Thirdly, we argue that the case of East Germany gives evidence to pay particular attention to numerically smaller religious groups within IRD as well as religiously unaffiliated parts of society. Consequently, we have to rethink the conceptualization of IRD in view of secularization as the dominant tendency in many European countries.

In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society
The radical process of religious change in eastern Germany poses a real challenge to social researchers. Common explanations view either the socialist past or larger scale processes of modernization to be the cause of eastern German secularization, but fail to address historical contingencies and individual agency. This book focuses on the interplay between local bureaucracies and individual lives. Contextualizing individual choices is essential in order to gain insight into how religious meaning is produced, reproduced, contested, discontinued, and disrupted. Bringing together the disciplines of anthropology, history, political science, and sociology, what unites the articles is their qualitative approach. The collection of articles lays out an impressive mosaic of the religious and the secular in the GDR and contemporary eastern Germany.

Contributors are Irene Becci, Anja Frank, Uta Karstein, Anna Körs, Esther Peperkamp, Małgorzata Rajtar, Thomas Schmidt-Lux, Nikolai Vukov, Kirstin Wappler, and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr.