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World Leader in Research on Rituals

Press Release No. 1/2009
10 07 2009
9.3 million euros from the German Research Foundation for the Collaborative Research Centre “Ritual Dynamics”
Heidelberg University’s Collaborative Research Centre “Ritual Dynamics” (SFB 619), the largest integrated research project in the world on the topic of rituals and their changes over time, has now gone into its third funding period. After successful review, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved further funding for the centre to the tune of approx. 9.3 million euros.  This will enable SFB 619 to continue its work at Heidelberg University for another four years. The notice of approval from the DFG said that SFB 619 had succeeded in “making Heidelberg into an internationally highly respected centre of present-day research on rituals and establishing it as a world leader in this field.”

The research centre focuses on empirical investigations into the dynamics of ritual practices in various historical and contemporary cultures and on the development of basic theoretical approaches in ritual studies. The work done by SFB 619 revolves around three central projects: ritual dynamics between tradition and recent religious practice; the reconstruction of ritual-dynamic processes in cultures of the past; and ritual transfer in societies of Europe and the Near East. The latest part-projects address topics such as political rituals in late antiquity and the theory and practice of ritual purity in medieval Ashkenazi Judaism, said SFB coordinator Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels of Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute.

9.3 million euros from the German Research Foundation for the long-term collaborative research centre “Ritual Dynamics”  
Photo: Jörg Gengnagel

The Collaborative Research Centre “Ritual Dynamics” was established in 2002. At present it assembles over 90 scholars and scientists from the fields of ancient and medieval history, anthropology of South Asia, Assyriology, classical and modern Indology, East Asian art history, Egyptology, history of South Asia, Islamic studies, Jewish studies, medical psychology, musicology, religious studies and theology.

For more information go to

Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels
South Asia Institute
SFB 619
Im Neuenheimer Feld 330
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 6221 548847

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