Religion and American Culture
Research on Religion and American Culture at Mainz connects the Institute with a wide range of international scholars who explore U.S. religion in a transnational context. Current international and/or interdisciplinary research collaborations include:
Towards a Global History of American Evangelicalism, 1840-2010
This project is a collaboration between scholars based in the UK (University of Southampton, King’s College, London), the U.S. (George Washington University), the Netherlands (Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg), and Germany (JGU) who explore the global history of American evangelicalism from a rounded international perspective. In the wake of the recent revival of American religious history as a research field, historians and social scientists have started to direct renewed attention to evangelical engagements with the world beyond the United States, in the form of missions, crusades, overseas institution-building, and efforts to influence the nation’s foreign policy. This network seeks to build upon these pioneering studies by examining American evangelicals’ interactions with the western and non-Western worlds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The work of American evangelicalism in the world over the past two centuries has been, and remains, a highly significant adjunct to secular processes of Americanization and globalization. It provides a frame through which scholars can meaningfully integrate the exploration of the exercise of American cultural power with transnational models that acknowledge the instances of indigenization, resistance, transactional relations and feedback effects within the United States.
Christian World Community and the Cold War: Religion, Spirituality, and the Superpowers, 1945-1990
The various networks examining this issue bring together an interdisciplinary and ecumenical group of church leaders, historians, theologians, and political scientists from the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to examine Christianity’s impact on the Cold War and how Christian identities, practices, and theology were transformed by it. During the decades of the Cold War religious communities were key factors both in the tensions that marked the period and in the resolution of conflicts. Though US historians have long recognised Christianity’s domestic influence, less well understood is its role in international developments, particularly the Cold War. The opening of formerly Soviet archives invigorated historical inquiry into Cold War diplomacy, but largely ignored how diplomats and ordinary citizens interpreted and responded to international events through the lens of religion. Both sides of the Iron Curtain contained Christian communities whose identities transcended ideological boundaries and were consciously transnational. In these global research collaborations, scholars across disciplines and countries in East and West seek to recover that history and to assess its legacy for the future.
Prof. Dr. Axel R. Schäfer