Group Formation

— Martin Christ

How has an ‘urban way of life’ influenced the genesis of different religious and confessional groups? The working hypothesis of the focus group is that by considering the mutual formation of religion and urbanity, we can also gain new insights into the phenomenon of religious group formation(s) and find new ways to understand how, when and why, groups formed and how they were visible (or invisible) in cities. Many of the processes of group formations show that both local and trans-regional points of reference played a part, which is why the workshop takes a broad geographical view.

The group discusses these topics in a range of settings, in order to ask:

• What are the motives of individuals gathering as groups and which (legal?) tools were used for gaining recognition? How were groups named, promoted and how did they become (in)visible in urban settings?

• Where are religious semantics and practices used for non-hierarchical segmentation, where for pragmatically relevant or irrelevant differentiation or even discrimination? Where do they intersectionally reinforce or conceal different kinds of inequality?

• How was cohesion within a group formed? What role did urbanity play in this process?

• How do religious groups relate to each other and what role does urbanity play in their (self-)definition vis-à-vis other religious groups?

• When can we speak of a group in a meaningful way?

British Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Current members of the group are:

  • Mara Albrecht (Erfurt, modern history)
  • Benedikt Brunner (Mainz, theology and church history)
  • Martin Christ (Erfurt, early modern history), who leads the group and organizes its events.
  • Verena Fugger (Vienna, archaeology and ancient history)
  • Peter Gottschalk (Connecticut, sociology)
  • Tom Hamilton (Durham, early modern history)
  • Jon Keune (Michigan, anthropology)
  • Heinrich Lang (Leipzig/Erfurt, early modern history)
  • Harry O. Maier (Vancouver, theology and ancient history)
  • Ben Pope (Manchester, medieval history)
  • Miri Rubin (London, medieval history)
  • Martina Stercken (Zurich, medieval history)


The group met at an exploratory workshop in Erfurt on 15 and 16 June 2023. The conference report by Constanze Schaller has been published with H-Soz-Kult and the programme can be accessed here.

On 2 August 2023, the group had its first online meeting and discussed the text “A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of Group Formation and Behavior” by Thomas D. Eliot.


For further information on the group and way of participating, contact Dr. Martin Christ (University of Erfurt).

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search