From the History of Religions to the Study of Religion in Denmark: An Essay on the Subject, Organizational History and Research Themes

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The history of the academic study of religion in Denmark resembles
developments in other Nordic and European countries as it has moved
from a primarily historical-philological and comparative ‘history of
religions’ towards a broader ‘study of religion(s)’ that includes history
of religions together with theories and methods from a wide
variety of the human, social and today also natural sciences. Uppsala
University was one of the three main centers of positivism at the end
of the 19th century, and its influence was evident and long-lasting
also in Denmark. By the end of the 1970s, debates and reflections on
methods and theories slowly began to have a greater impact, and from
the mid-80s and especially mid-90s, also due to conscious efforts not
least in Aarhus, methodological issues gained in importance. A turn
towards contemporary religion also became evident. Today it may be
claimed that a kind of balance has been achieved whereby historical
and empirical studies of religions go hand in hand with theoretical
and methodological reflections, and where a balance between, on the
one hand, more classical comparative history of religions materials
and approaches, and, on the other hand, new and different areas of
research, and new and different approaches and theories are of equal
importance. With regard to individual research, research programs,
and study programs, the history of the history of religions in Denmark
cannot be described in detail here. This article presents the broad picture
of important developments within and across the three Danish
universities that have study of religion departments. Although the
early histories are briefly touched upon, the focus will be on the past
50 years, from about 1960 until 2014, thus roughly the same period
that Temenos has been in existence.
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)79-113
StatePublished - Jul 2014