Dr. phil. Anja Kirsch

Oberassistentin / PostDoc and Programme Coordinator of the Joint Doctoral Programme in the Study of Religions and Theology

Heuberg 12
4051 Basel

+41 (0)61 207 29 26

Education and Academic Positions                                                                               

Following my studies in Religion, History and German Studies at the University of Hannover, Germany, I worked at the Universities of Jena, Germany; Dublin (Trinity College), Ireland; and Basel and Bern, Switzerland. I am employed as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Basel and as the programme coordinator of the joint doctoral programmes in the Study of Religions (the University of Basel and University of Zürich) and in Theology (Universities of Basel, Bern, and Zürich).   

Research Interests                                                                                                         

  • Religion, Narrative Cultures, and Social Revolutionary Movements
  • Processes of Secularisation, Atheism, the Modern Criticism of Religion, and Religious and Political Utopia
  • Aesthetics (Secular Myth and Ritual), and Strategies of Impartation (School Textbooks, Catechisms, Mass Media e.g. Film & Literature)
  • Religion and Literary Theory, esp. Narratological and Aesthetic Response Approaches to Religion
  • Conceptual History/Historical Semantics of Terms and Historiography of Religion 


Weltanschauung als Erzählkultur>> (The Narrative Culture of a Secular Worldview, 2016)

In my book on character education in a secular state, I analyzed the narrative construction of cultures of remembrance by focusing on religion and socialism in East German civics school textbooks. Based on a narratological approach, the analysis revealed how socialism was construed through a well-defined set of narrative strategies used to impart this worldview, making it plausible and adaptable to citizens' daily concerns. The historical part of the study consists of a detailed analysis of socialist narratives, while its theoretical framework sketches the academic discourse on socialism and religion, revealing how acts of classification, interpretation, and comparison are interwoven with normative understandings of the concept of religion that become politically relevant.

The book is published in the Critical Studies in Religion/Religionswissenschaft series, ed. by G. Ahn/O. Freiberger/J. Mohn/M. Stausberg and has received the Georg Eckert Prize for Excellence in International Media Research awarded by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research>>.

  Book Abstract (English)>> 

Book Extract (German) >>


Since I obtained my Ph.D., I have published on textbook studies, the construction of work ethics and nineteenth-century immortality discourse, civil religion>>, religion and the fantastic in the popular TV show LOST>>, narrative cultures, early nineteenth-century political catechisms and the genesis of the Communist Manifesto>>, and university didactics>>. A particular interest of mine concerns the transfer of academic knowledge to broader audiences>>. I am a member of the Culture on the Edge>> working group and blog, initiated by US-American scholars of religion to discuss questions of identity politics, religion, and social theory. Currently, I am working on religious and political utopian thought, narratives of revolution and processes of (transatlantic) migration in the long nineteenth-century European history of religions.



I am a member of the organizing committee of the 2018 EASR conference>> that will take place from June 17-21 at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Last summer, I co-hosted the international AESToR.net conference on Narrative Cultures>>, held at the University of Oslo, Norway.



I have experience in teaching undergraduate and post-graduate level courses on the history and theory of religion, including tutorials, B.A. and M.A. seminars, colloquia, and lectures. I have taught in lecturer positions at the Leibniz University of Hannover, the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and the University of Bern, Switzerland. In Basel, my particular responsibility is teaching introductory courses on the theory and history of the Study of Religions as well as on the European history of religions. 


Boards & Memberships                                                                                                   

  • Editorial Board Member Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (MTSR>>)
  • Board Member of the Swiss Society for the Study of Religion (SSSR>>
  • International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) / European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR) / German Association for the Study of Religion (DVRW)
  • Member of the DVRW working group Aesthetics of Religion (AESToR.net>>)
  • Centre for Religion, Economy, and Politics (ZRWP)
  • Religious Studies Media and Information Service in Germany (REMID)


                                                                                                                                                                            Office hour: by appointment