The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.


For much of the twentieth century the “process of secularisation” provided the dominant lens through which the relationship between modernity and religion was understood. While in recent years a number of scholars have advanced searching criticisms of this understanding of modernity, there is no unanimity among critics of the standard model of secularization. This project aims to explore some of the major genres of the history of secularisation, and to account for them historically. Of particular interest are the normative commitments that attend different accounts of secularisation, and the presence and effects of those commitments in discussions about the secular in the present. A careful classification and contextualization of different narratives of secularisation is crucial to a proper understanding of progress and innovation in human affairs, since what counts as progress and innovation is internal to these narratives. More generally, this project will explore the relations between religion, history, and the secular anew. It seeks to determine a) the complex nature of their interactions, b) the significance of these interactions for innovation in human affairs in the past, and c) the way such analysis can offer resources for figuring the possibilities for the present and the future. 

The project began this year with dedicated papers in the Centre's Public Seminar Series for Semester 1, 2013. The project will include an international workshop to be held in Prato, Italy, September 26-28, 2013.

Principal Investigators

  • Professor Peter Harrison, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland
  • Professor Stephen Gaukroger, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney
  • Professor Ian Hunter, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Dr Marina Bollinger, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland
Religion, History and the Secular section

CHED Seminar Series 2013 - Semester 1

  Secularization is commonly understood as definitive of Western modernity, and is associated with its most prized poss...

Prato Workshop 26-28 September 2013

  Narratives of Secularisation: Religion, History a...

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