‘I am here to bear witness to the truth about the horrifying effect of nuclear weapons. None of you have ever in reality seen the destruction of the world or the annihilation of mankind. We from Nagasaki have seen it with our own eyes.’ – Nagasaki mayor Motoshima at the UN General Assembly Hall, 30 June 1982.
My project seeks to investigate how local officials from Hiroshima and Nagasaki have promoted remembrance of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the United Nations up until today.
Knowledge always comes with a price. It cost Odin an eye, Adam his accommodation and Prometheus, repeatedly, his liver. In our case, it is covered by European tax payers and administered by the Oracles of Bruxelles. This is a guide on how to access the ever burning, ever consuming fire of academia. And a warning of the eternal punishment.
The first thing you need to know about the path to wisdom is how to obtain the grace of the Oracles. The Oracles are not the wielders of divine influence but they act as our only means of communication with the Gods. Their language is mysterious and abstract, an entire reality of words disconnected from sensual impressions and practical experience. You must learn this language, and they will attribute meaning to absurdities and contradictions that go far beyond the bounderies of scholarly decency. If you succeed in this step, and your prayers are delivered, there is a fair chance that the Gods will provide.
Now begins the rain of gifts, and you find yourself drowning in the generosity of the Gods. What appear mere droplets to these mighty beings, are to mortals like oceans crashing into the land, swallowing entire cities and crushing the fragile structures made by man (viz. Humanity – a simple poetic choice, no intentions of male dominance). The blessed receiver is humbled by the immensity at first, but soon corrupted by the power of employing these infinite resources. The gift becomes a curse. Like the first woman.(literary reference, on no account am I accountable for such a notion)
The destructive power of money attracts the hyenas of academia. This is an ancient race, but ever evolving and ever greedy. To the untrained eye, these are often dificult to tell from the bold and philanthropic explorers of honest, and to the unconcerned and detached Oracles completely indistinguishable.
Somewhere in the archives of the Danish Royal Library exist fourteen books, all that is left of a five-volume print run of Enevold Ewald’s sermons. There are no digital copies of the material, nor is there any detailed research on his words. Yet for twenty-seven years, Ewald was the priest and daily leader of Det Kongelige Vajsenhus- an organization that ran the orphanage in Copenhagen and which eventually became the printer of both the authorized Danish Bible and the official hymnal of the Church of Denmark. Purely in terms of printing output, the organization’s work touched all the far reaches of the Danish Empire during the 18th century. Still, despite this legacy of leadership, Ewald’s philosophy of education and his theological thought have remained relatively undisturbed. He exists as a poisonous figure for the historical theology research world in Denmark, tainted forever by his association with Moravians and Separatists. While his fellow Pietists, Hans Adolph Brorson and Erik Pontoppidan, have literary legacies that stretch well past their deaths, Ewald’s name no longer is connected to his vast and varied literary output. His work exists on the brink of burial in the vaults of books too old to be touched or read.
My research is a project of historical theology that sees to resurrect the writings of Ewald through the lens of theological anthropology and spiritual development. The specter of polemic historiography has shunned this figure, but I will treat him as a pathway into a deeper cultural understanding of eighteenth-century religious practice and belief. Continue reading
My PhD project is a Foucault-inspired analysis of the discourse on human freedom among Danish Muslims. The analysis is supported by anthropological fieldwork and qualitative research methods. The research started in September 2016, and will be concluded Continue reading
TL;DR You know those cool graphs of people’s Facebook friend connections? I’m making one of those, but of dead theologians and philosophers. It might end up telling me something about them and how ideas are passed from person to person or community to community, but more likely than not it will just give me some pretty pictures.
Network theory and Theology
I am using social network theory and analysis exploring how the social imaginary of ‘freedom’ changes in the mid-twentieth century in response to two intersecting cultural movements: the secularization of the West, and the disruption of structuralism by post-modernity. These are certainly not exclusive categories, but they are also not coterminous. As such it will be important to take them on their own terms as somewhat independent interrelated fields of understanding, ‘life-worlds’, in which the average contemporary westerner is being conditioned by and participating in. The secularization thesis presented by Taylor in A Secular Age (2007) will be vital to this study, as well as the work of Talal Asad in Formations of the Secular (2003). Both these authors understand secularization through the interactions of material and ideological forces in given times and places that variously produce the epistemological approach, the political activity, the social theory, and the self-conceptions, and it is these that also condition how freedom is understood in the concomitant theological contexts.