Political Theology in Jewish and Christian Contexts: Reception Histories and Controversies with Carl Schmitt

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Monday | 18.07.22
Until Wednesday | 20.07.22

Theology in Jewish and Christian Contexts: Reception Histories and Controversies with Carl Schmitt

Int. Conf. in Berlin |

Monday-Wednesday 18-20.7.2022 |

Katholische Akademie in Berlin, Hannoversche Str. 5, 10115

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology, written in 1922, is present in almost every discussion of the place of the theological within the politics of our secularized societies. Despite Jürgen Habermas’s admonition that studying Schmitt is merely a gateway drug leading to the dream of a strong state, Schmittian thought continues to heavily influence contemporary discourses, on the left as much as on the right. Whether one agrees with Schmitt’s thesis or not, Political Theology has become a paradigm with which some of the most urgent challenges of our age are approached. It is often through the Schmittian prism that contemporary thinkers account for populism and states of emergency, understand the present crisis of liberalism, and revisit the complex relations between modernity and religious traditions.

The 100th anniversary of Schmitt’s influential work is an opportunity to inquire into the genealogy of Political Theology and trace its diverse and at times conflictual applications in answering these urgent questions. The conference will trace the entanglement of these and other debates from the time of the work’s publication in the Interwar period to present-day debates occurring in diverse cultural and political contexts. More specifically, it will explore Schmitt’s reception within Christian and Jewish circles, taking into account how political theology and the “secular” are perceived precisely from their respective theological perspectives. The attempt is not to embrace Schmitt, whose anti-Semitism and notorious involvement with the Nazi regime continue to shadow his thought, but rather to think political theology in its variety. We will trace the various religious uses of political theology, whether they serve to legitimize the political sphere through religion, to criticize politics in the name of theology, or to denote a form of secular theology, positing the political at its doctrinal core. Moreover, we will explore the critical function of political theology, not only in conflicts between religious traditions and secularism but also in frictions between competing religious traditions.


Institut Kirche und Judentum, HU Berlin
Katholische Akademie in Berlin
Political Theology Network, Philadelphia
The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

The conference is cosponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

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