Cultural Values, Religion, and Human Rights

Cultural Values, Religion, and Human Rights

The interplay of cultural values, religions and human rights offers numerous possibilities for interdisciplinary research. Projects may inter alia aim at conceptual clarification, historical and phenomenological analysis, critical normative reflection, exploring the modes of institutionalizing values at different levels (global, regional, national, local) as well empirical research on normative attitudes and their impact on individuals, groups and States. With an intercultural perspective, we address questions of cultural mobility, discursive shifts, and the global negotiations of meaning behind various religious, cultural, social, and political patterns and practices.

The key research priority productively engages areas characterised by tensions, which have been the cause of repeated misunderstandings, conflicts, and even cultural wars. Human rights due to their universalistic claim of validity differ conceptually from conventional cultural values, but in order to be internalized by individuals, they still require the support of cultural values in specific contexts. For human rights to facilitate the fair and peaceful coexistence of people of different religious orientations, a conceptual and institutional differentiation is required between human rights and religion, often labeled as “secularism”.

The frequently assumed general bifurcation of religion and secularism does not adequately capture the manifold configurations that relate the two concepts and phenomena to each other. Similarly, the relationship between religion and culture is a source of contention. With the proposed key terms the dynamic aspects of cultural difference, exchange and transformation are in the focus of this research field.

Outstanding Activities


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Heiner Bielefeldt

Institute of Political Science
Chair in Human Rights and Human Rights Politics

Prof. Dr. Heike Paul

Department of English and American Studies
Chair of American Studies (Prof. Dr. Paul)

Prof. Dr. Andreas Nehring


Department of Systematic Theology
Chair of Religious Studies and Theology of Christian Mission