17 Jan 2019 - 18 Jan 2019 All day King's College, Cambridge, CB2 1ST


Each of the four annual workshops of our project Religious Diversity and the Secular University, focuses on a specific academic discipline, and this one is devoted to history. We will look at fundamental issues pertaining to the relationship between history and religion, a resurgent question among historians working on eras from antiquity onwards. We shall ask such questions as: how do historians write the histories of religion, religious cultures and their interaction, and what is at stake in such work? In what ways do the religious origins of the university still inform its secular ethos and our sense of academic vocation? How might theological structures of time still inform “secular” philosophies of history such as that of Marxism, the hope for a fully rational world or the persistent belief that modernity and secularisation are somehow fundamentally entangled? If, since the early 19th century, historians widely mobilised history in the service of the disenchantment of the world and liberation from religions historical claims, how are we to account for the resurgence of religion and the contemporary employment of history in the defence of religious freedom and rights? Jewish, Christian and Muslim cases will be discussed, in relation to each other.

We will be hosting Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute Berlin/University of Chicago), David N Myers (UCLA), Shahzad Bashir (Brown), Christian Sahner (Oxford), David Nirenberg (University of Chicago), and Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (Yale), with responses by Arthur Asseraf (Cambridge), Faridah Zaman (Oxford), Andrea Schatz (KCL), Andrew McKenzie-McHarg (Cornell), Robert Priest (Royal Holloway) and Carlotta Santini (CRASSH).

Six papers will be pre-circulated to participants, who are asked to commit to attending both days, from 11.00 on Thursday to 15.30 on Friday.

For further particulars or questions, please write to Theodor Dunkelgrün.
To register, please write to the project administrator, Judith Weik.

andrew w mellon foundation logo


‘Religious Diversity and the Secular University’ is funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to support a multi-disciplinary examination of the interplay between religion, secularism, and the role of the university, reference #41600622.


Day One: Thursday 17 January 2019

The Audit Room, King’s College, Cambridge


Coffee and tea

11:00 - 12:30

Professor Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute Berlin/University of Chicago)

Sibling Rivalry: Science, Religion, and the Ideal of the Secular

Respondent: Dr Carlotta Santini  (EURIAS fellow, CRASSH)

12:30 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:30

Professor David Nirenberg (University of Chicago)

The Historian as Theologian: A Conflict of the Faculties?

Respondent: Dr Andrew McKenzie-McHarg (CRASSH/Cornell)

15:30 - 16:00


16:00 - 17:30

Professor David N Myers (UCLA)

Dialectics of the Secular in Modern Jewish Historiography        

Respondent: Dr Andrea Schatz (KCL)

Day Two: Friday 18 January 2019

The Beeves Room, King’s College, Cambridge

09:30 - 11:00

Dr Christian Sahner (Oxford)

The Problem with Islamic History: Religious Diversity and an Integrated Approach to the Medieval Middle East

Respondent: Dr Arthur Asseraf (Cambridge)

11:00 - 11:30


11:30 - 13:00

Professor Shahzad Bashir (Brown)

Prospects for Rethinking Islamic History

Respondent: Dr Faridah Zaman (Oxford)

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:30

Dr Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins (Yale)

Religious Freedom and Anti-Protestantism 

Respondent: Dr Robert Priest (Royal Holloway)

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk