Religious Mobilities

Europe and the Medieval and Early Modern World

A collaborative, five-year project of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program of the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia

Project summary

Religion, and particularly Christianity, is often cast as unchanging and reactionary, the immobile force behind static cultural and social settings, and only in exceptional circumstances becoming an inspiration for episodic, exceptional motivation and action. This project offers a different view, by uncovering the multiple and intersecting roles that religion has played in relation to mobility in a critical period for the formation of our globalized world.

Religious Mobilities pays close attention to the chronology and character of movement within the traditions, structures, social groups, identities, and practices that comprised Christianity within Europe, their connections and relationships with varieties of Judaism and Islam in and around Europe, and colonial interactions of Europeans with non-European Christianities and religions.

The project will produce new, nuanced, and connected histories of mobility and religion, while also exploring religion’s role in violence and stasis. Its ultimate ambition is to reframe the study of religion and culture across the medieval and early modern periods around the central and definitive force of mobility.

Through its collaborations and activities with partners in Melbourne, Rome, and elsewhere and through the publications produced as a result, the project brings IRCI’s particular expertise in the religious life of medieval and early modern Europe into close dialogue with wider expertise to place Europe firmly within comparative and global contexts. These contexts include the histories of other Christianities practised elsewhere in the pre-modern world; the histories of Islam, Judaism, and other religions with significant intersections and entanglements with Christianity; and the historiographies of race, gender, senses, emotions, temporalities, colonialisms, literature, trade, and material culture.

The project draws on the MEMS programme’s particular expertise in the religious life of medieval and early modern Europe. It is also designed to bring Europe’s modes of mobility into close dialogue with wider expertise that places Europe in comparative and global contexts.
These contexts include:

  • histories of other Christianities practised elsewhere in the pre-modern world
  • histories of Islam, Judaism, and other religions with significant intersections and entanglements with Christianity
  • historiographies of race, gender, senses, emotions, temporalities, colonialisms, literature, trade, and material culture.

The project thereby aims to write histories of mobility that seek out expertise and methods to trace Europe’s deep embeddedness in a polycentric, multilayered, cosmopolitan, and ever-globalizing world. Established with these parameters, the project is intended to change the way we understand religion’s many roles in medieval and early modern Europe, as a catalysing and ordering force of movement within and between societies, a force still at work in the world today.

Lievan van Lathem, David Aubert, Gillion’s Ship Attacked by the Sultan’s Army, J. Paul Getty Museum, open access.

1Banner: Christ’s Descent into Hades, follower of Hieronymus Bosch. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Have a
question?

Ask
Research

Our contacts

Have a question for a specific
team? Ask the right person.

View all contacts