Church and Social Sciences

Church and Social Sciences: How can we re-think Church History through Social Sciences?

Bénédicte Sère, Université Paris X-Nanterre
and Vivien Prigent, MFO

The ‘institutionalocentrism’ of historians diagnosed by Michel Foucault often leads to a simplistic narrative confronting two monoliths, the Church and the State. This dichotomy isolated religious history from the analytical tools honed by social sciences—despite the fact that the ‘Church’ as an object of enquiry was at the very core of sociological thinking since the days of its founding fathers, Durkheim and Weber.
This workshop aims to contribute to an ongoing editorial endeavour, a collaborative ‘Critical dictionary’ reassessing the historical object we commonly refer to as “the Church”. Through the familiar format of “dictionary headings” common assumptions about the Church as an ecclesiastical institution, as well as related topics, will be addressed.
Through paired interventions, the speakers will question the formation and consolidation of traditional narratives concerning the Church in order to shift the focus away from classic “religious history” and confront the historical approach with the methodologies and
concepts developed by social sciences. Deconstructing these grand narratives will highlight the ideological presuppositions of conventional
normative accounts, insuring a critical historicization of classical conceptions about the Church and Churches from an anthropological and social-historical perspective.

Tuesday 18 June 
Maison française d’Oxford

Bénédicte Sère (Paris)/Frédéric Gabriel (Paris/Lyon)
Dictionary: Critical Essay of Historiography
Context: EHESS/ Césor, PUF, 2022
– Ecclesial: Jean-Pascal Gay (Louvain)
– City: Dominique Iogna-Prat (Paris)
Ian Forrest (Oxford), John Arnold (Cambridge), Sabrina Corbellini
(Groningen), William Whyte (Oxford), Sarah Mortimer (Oxford)
– Public Sphere: A. Rauwel (Paris/EHESS)
– Genre: Céline Béraud (Paris)
-DISCUSSION: Sita Steckel (Münster), Sabrina Corbellini (Groningen), Sarah Mortimer (Oxford), Dorothea Weltecke (Frankfurt), Amanda Power (Oxford, Saint Catherine)

– Accommodation: Céline Béraud (Paris)
– Church as fiction and narrative: Frédéric Gabriel (Paris/Lyon)
-DISCUSSION: Emilia Jamroziak (Leeds), William Whyte (Oxford), Ian Forrest (Oxford), Sarah Mortimer (Oxford)
-PRESENTATION of the Dictionnaire des faits religieux, 2010:
Dominique Iogna-Prat (Paris)


Tuesday 19 June 
All Souls College

-Religion: Dominique Iogna-Prat (Paris), Alain Rauwel,
Frédéric Gabriel (Paris/Lyon), Sita Steckel (Münster)
-DISCUSSION: Amanda Power (Oxford), Emilia Jamroziak (Leeds), Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge), Dorothea Weltecke (Frankfurt)
-ROUND-TABLE, chair Bénédicte Sère (Paris): How does the Dictionary
fit into the Anglosaxon historiography and current intellectual debates?
-DISCUSSION: Julia Smith (Oxford), Amanda Power (Oxford), Rob
Lutton (Nottingham), John Arnold (Cambridge), Sita Steckel (Münster), Ian Forrest (Oxford), Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge), Dorothea Weltecke (Frankfurt), Johannes Zachhuber (Oxford), Emilia Jamroziak (Leeds),
Lucy Sackville (York), Rob Lutton (Nottingham)


18 June

09:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Maison Française d’Oxford

2-10 Norham Road 
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6SE Royaume-Uni
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(+44)(0)1865 2 74222