Jens Schlieter (project leader) is professor for the Systematic Study of Religion at the University of Bern's Religious Studies institute. His research will include a systematic contribution on the relationship of experimentation/experience in the field of religious practice, This will include a conceptual history of both terms. Moreover, he will analyze how Indian scholars and practitioners (Neo-Hinduism and Neo-Buddhism) from the 19th century advanced the concept and idea of experimentation with spiritual experiences, and to experiment with different religious traditions.
Bastiaan van Rijn studied Religious Studies at Leiden University. In his sub-project Experimental Systems, Spiritual Practices, and Religious Experience, he looks at how spiritually minded animal magnetizers in the 19th century attempted to experimentally investigate the existence of the soul and the content of life after death. Drawing from science studies, he is particularly interested in analyzing how the experimental systems of these magnetizers looked like, and which strategies they drew on to extend scientific investigations beyond the borders of death.
PhD Researcher (Since August 2022)
Sarah Perez received her Master’s from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. In her work within the project, she looks at contemporary spiritual experiences that, according to the recipients, are self-transformative. She is particularly interested in the role that the internet plays in the forming of communities around these experiences; how members within these communities deal with promises of transformation; and the difficulties they face in achieving such experiences themselves.
Friedemann Rimbach-Sator holds a Research Master in Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Amsterdam. His involvement with the project dealt with the consequences of religious experimentation for practi-tioners: how did they set up their experiments and how did the outcome change their beliefs and subsequent practices? Ultimately this contributed to testing the hypothesis that contem-porary spiritual seekers are indebted to these experimental perfomances as well as its discourses.
Yves Mühlematter holds a PhD from the University of Fribourg. His subproject dealt with (auto-biographical accounts of experimenting with different (religious) practices in order to increase one's abilities to access higher knowledge and to progress faster in (evolutionary) development. It asked further how this "experimentation with practices" relates to scientific "practices of experimentation." His work was mainly concerned with 19th century Theosophy, but also explore continuities and discontinuities in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The project is based at the Institute for the Science of Religion at the University of Bern and is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2019-2023). It has close ties to 'The Legacy of the 1960s and 1970s' project of the same institute. Next to that, the project also enjoys the help of several cooperation partners: