FOR 1533: Sakralität und Sakralisierung in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Interkulturelle Perspektiven in Europa und Asien (seit 2010)

Third Party Funds Group - Overall project


Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Herbers


Contributing FAU Organisations:
Lehrstuhl für Mittelalterliche Geschichte

Funding source: DFG / Forschergruppe (FOR)
Acronym: FOR 1533
Start date: 01/10/2010


Research Fields

Heiligenverehrung, Hagiographie, Sakralität und Sakralisierung
Lehrstuhl für Mittelalterliche Geschichte
Geschichte der Iberischen Halbinsel im Mittelalter
Lehrstuhl für Mittelalterliche Geschichte


Abstract (technical / expert description):


In the pre-modern societies of Europe and Asia, the sacral character of objects, spaces and personalities not only needed frequent reaffirmation; it was also open to doubt and even denial. This Research Unit, taking as its starting point the observation that sacrality is only rarely unambiguously defined, and in the vast majority of cases highly controversial and constantly subject to a process of negotiation and renegotiation, will investigate how people approached and dealt with the holy in pre-modern Europe and Asia. The goal of the Research Unit is a comparative examination of Christian as well as non-Christian conceptions of sacrality in various European and Asian cultures, as reflected in texts and images, in the structure and furnishing of buildings, in the cult of personalities, in modes and models of rulership and in performative acts.

At the centre of the Research Unit lies the question of how exactly sacrality is constituted. This question, in turn, will be approached from the conception of sacralisation as a process of attribution and enactment, which varies significantly according to context. For understanding this process, it will be in the particular interest of the project to consider relationships between different media; the connection between the institutionalisation and the de-institutionalisation of the holy; as well as the tension between individually legitimised holiness and official, collectively binding, ecclesiastical “canonisation”.

The methodological approach will breach borders between both disciplines and media, and comparison across historical periods will make it possible to investigate sacrality systematically, also in terms of its mutability over the course of history. Above all, the planned comparison between Christian Europe, India and China promises to help isolating and articulating both structural differences and structural similarities between religions and/or religious denominations, also in a long-term chronological perspective.

In terms of content, the Research Unit conceives of its theme as a combination of questions of an historical, art-historical and literary nature, where the textual, individual, artistic and spatial aspects of sacral phenomena can be perceived in all their complexity. Thus freed from the constraints of individual research projects, the Research Unit will not only be able to illuminate central concepts of religious transcendence across different cultures and historical periods: it is at disciplinary intersections of this kind that what is culturally and historically specific about each sacral phenomenon under consideration becomes clearly visible.


Sub projects:

From the cultic worship to the worship without cult: Felix and Regula in Zürich (8.-18. CE)
Holiness at the borders of the Latin Christianity
Sakralität und Sakralisierung in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit. Interkulturelle Perspektiven in Europa und Asien
Sakrale Zonen im frühchristlichen Kirchenbau. Zum Kommunikationspotential von Bodenmosaiken für die Binnenhierarchie heiliger Räume - ein west-östlicher Vergleich
The Sacralisation of a Deity between Popular Religion and Official Cult. The Case of Jinlong Si
Sacred Things. Investigations on History, Theory, and Transformation of Admirable Objects
Holiness adorns your house Discourses on the "beauty of your house, LORD" in the context of sanctification of monastic life

Last updated on 2018-22-11 at 19:40