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The present research project addresses the question of how the theological literacy and agency of volunteer church leaders can be fostered so that cooperative church leadership can be achieved. The Protestant Churches of the Canton of St. Gallen (Switzerland) and Austria, together with the Centre for Church Development of the University of Zurich, designed a participatory research process. The aim was to increase the communicative and participative competence of volunteers. Together, through a creative and discursive process, the foundations, educational processes and tools necessary for theological empowerment were developed with the volunteer church leaders. The cooperative project combines research and practice in the sense that practitioners were actively involved in generating, evaluating and discussing the data. In addition, in this project we found ways to continue participatory research – for example through online discourse formats – and thus not lose the essence of such research in times of covid-19.

In: Ecclesial Practices


As satirists of religious enthusiasm, Swift and the third Earl of Shaftesbury sometimes were confused with one another in the eighteenth century. Their politics and understandings of religion, however, made them each other’s satirical target. This essay argues that, in order to understand the partisan dialogue between Shaftesbury and Swift, it is necessary to grasp its clandestine nature. Only very close readings of the two writers’ texts unveil their hidden allusions to each other; in fact, these were part of a strategic game of rhetorical hide-and-seek. In the light of this premise, new interpretations of both Shaftesbury and Swift are being offered, showing that their intellectual duel was far more than a footnote in the struggle between Whigs and Tories. Rather, this clandestine dialogue reveals the broader lines of their political and religious battle.

In: Reading Swift
In: Comparing Cultures


How and when did domestic donkeys arrive in China? This article sets out to uncover the donkeys’ forgotten trail from West Asia across the Iranian plateau to China, using archaeological, art historical, philological, and linguistic evidence. Following Parpola and Janhunen’s (2011) contribution to our understanding of the Indian wild ass and Mitchell’s (2018) overview of the history of the domestic donkey in West Asia and the Mediterranean, we will attempt to shed light on the transmission of the beast of burden to Eastern Eurasia.

Due to its length, the paper is published in two instalments: Part I covers archaeological, art historical and textual evidence for the earliest occurrence and popularization of donkeys in China. Part II (in the fall issue) contains three sections: Two sections explore possible etymologies of ancient zoonyms for donkeys or donkey-like animals in Iranian and Chinese languages respectively. In a final discussion, possible ways of transmission for the donkey from the Iranian plateau to the Chinese heartland are evaluated with regard to the cultural, linguistic, and topographic conditions reflected in the previous parts.

Open Access
In: International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics


This article focuses on how the European Union’s (EU) mediation activities during the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflicts are perceived by local elites. Our analysis is based on recent interviews with decision makers in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine. Consistent with this special issue, we investigate perceptions of EU roles, strategies and effectiveness. We suggest that the EU’s relation to the parties may affect their perceptions of EU conflict mediation efforts. Specifically, we expect that the EU is perceived as a biased mediator in both cases due to perceived close relations to one or more conflict parties. However, contrary to our expectations and widespread assumption in mediation theory, while such a bias exists, we found it is not perceived as a main cause of EU ineffectiveness. Other factors, including the prominence of other mediators and internal EU disunity, are perceived as more detrimental to EU efficacy.

Open Access
In: International Negotiation
Zum Verhältnis von Ästhetik und Religion in der Moderne
Ästhetische Formen sind Kristallisationspunkte kultureller, religiöser und politischer Konflikte. Dies gilt, sofern sie religiös determinierten und legitimierten Bedeutungssystemen angehören. Sie stehen im Horizont bestimmter Klassifikationsschemata, epistemischer Unterscheidungen, unterschiedlicher Konzeptionen von Sprache und sozialer Normativität.
Der Band fragt nach der Rolle und Funktion »autonomer« Kunst im Säkularisierungsprozess. Dieser ist nicht zuletzt durch die insistierende Präsenz christlicher Referenzen in der modernen europäischen Kunst gekennzeichnet. In Frage steht damit aber, dass die Kunst der Moderne sich in einem a-religiösen oder post-religiösen Raum bewegt. Umgekehrt liegt die Vermutung nahe, dass die säkulare Signatur der modernen Kunst erst vor dem Hintergrund des Christentums verständlich wird.
Die Diskussion um die Bedeutung des Museums wird im dritten Band von Philosophen, Kunsthistorikern und Literaturwissenschaftlern zum Anlass genommen, den Blick zurück zu den Anfängen der Museumsidee, insbesondere zur Idee des Kunstmuseums, zu lenken. Diese Anfänge sind aber, ebenso wie die Idee der Kunstgeschichte überhaupt, unlösbar mit dem Namen Hegels verknüpft. Vor diesem Hintergrund analysieren die Beiträge des Bandes die Verknüpfung von Musealisierung und Reflexion, die Hegel als konstitutives Merkmal einer modernen Gesellschaft bestimmt hatte.
In exemplarischen Studien widmet sich der Sammelband der Wirkungsgeschichte der Sieben Todsünden in den unterschiedlichen Künsten. Der Fokus liegt weniger auf einer Ideengeschichte, sondern auf der Formelhaftigkeit, die gerade im Verblassen der ursprünglichen Hintergründe ihre Wirkmacht in breiter diskursiver Streuung entfaltet.
So reichen die vielfältigen Fortschreibungen und Transformationen – oftmals nur Allusionen auf die ursprünglich religiöse Ordnungsphantasie – weit über das frühe Mittelalter und die klassische Theologie hinaus. Selbst nach der Verabschiedung der Absolutheit theologischer Erklärungsmuster durch die Aufklärung faszinieren und inspirieren die Sieben Todsünden die Künste bis heute. Der Band versammelt Studien, die sich aus literatur-, medien- und kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive sowohl den einzelnen Todsünden superbia, invidia, ira, acedia, avaritia, gula, luxuria als auch dem Septupel insgesamt widmen.
Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift
This new volume of Reading Swift assembles 26 lectures delivered at the Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift in June 2017, testifying to an extraordinary spectrum of research interests in the Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, and his works. Reading Swift follows the tried and tested format of its predecessors, grouping the essays in eight sections: biographical problems; bibliographical and canonical studies; political and religious as well as philosophical, economic, and social issues; poetry; Gulliver’s Travels; and reception studies. The élan vital, which has been such a distinctive feature of Swift scholar-ship in the past thirty-five years, is continuing unabated.