The ‘institutionalocentrism’ of historians diagnosed by Michel Foucault often leads to a simplistic narrative confronting two monoliths, the Church and the State. This dichotomy isolated religious history from the analytical tools honed by social sciences—despite the fact that the ‘Church’ as an object of enquiry was at the very core of sociological thinking since the days of its founding fathers, Durkheim and Weber.
This workshop aims to contribute to an ongoing editorial endeavour, a collaborative ‘Critical dictionary’ reassessing the historical object we commonly refer to as “the Church”. Through the familiar format of “dictionary headings” common assumptions about the Church as an ecclesiastical institution, as well as related topics, will be addressed.
Through paired interventions, the speakers will question the formation and consolidation of traditional narratives concerning the Church in order to shift the focus away from classic “religious history” and confront the historical approach with the methodologies and concepts developed by social sciences. Deconstructing these grand narratives will highlight the ideological presuppositions of conventional normative accounts, insuring a critical historicization of classical conceptions about the Church and Churches from an anthropological and social-historical perspective.