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Research lines

Conflicts are a key feature of contemporary religion and the main reason why the public opinion, the media, and scholars take an interest in the phenomenology of religion. Ranging from systematic large-scale violence to tensions within communities and families, the interaction between conflicts and religion is multifaceted and complex.

Our research stems from the assumption that both isolating religion as a factor in conflict descriptions and downplaying the significance of religious motives are inadequate.

Science and technology are today shaping the ecological, economic, and political conditions of present and future human societies to an historically unprecedented extent. They are profoundly affecting our self-understanding as human beings, thus changing the ways in which we interact with each other as well as those in which we relate to non-human animals and the biosphere at large.

In the past and still today, many people have sought and often found in religion – in their cults and in their beliefs – a source and a means of changing their lives for the better. This usually entailed the use of anthropotechnics: that is, of mental and physical exercises, special training, varieties of asceticism, with the aim of shaping new habits and a new life-form. Here is rooted the link between spirituality and lifestyles that can be seen in the return of interest in religion in the West nowadays.

In order to understand and practice their faith believers combine in various ways the texts, doctrines and traditions of the relevant community. While being a fundamental feature of the individual experience of believing and belonging, texts, doctrines and traditions define the collective dimension of religion and the negotiation of truth and identity within and between communities. In this research line we investigate ancient, modern and contemporary sources of faith communities and the correlated doctrines and traditions.