What Would Jesus Fund? Financing Religious Enterprises in the Long Eighteenth Century

What Would Jesus Fund? Financing Religious Enterprises in the Long Eighteenth Century

Prof. Dr. Renate Dürr; Dr. Lionel Laborie, University of Tübingen
Vom - Bis
09.02.2017 - 10.02.2017
Dr Lionel Laborie

While cliometrics has transformed our understanding of history over the past decades, the new economics of religion remains a comparatively small and emerging field. This is especially true with regard to the early modern period, where data is often incomplete, inconsistent or simply lacking. The economic developments of the long eighteenth century represented a major challenge for Christianity as a whole, in particular for religious dissenters, many of whom worked in crafts and trades. With colonialism, the triangular slave trade and the Industrial Revolution came globalisation, capital accumulation and consumerism. New economic opportunities not only encouraged religious migrations, but also introduced spiritual dilemmas, leading to as many diverging responses from one denomination to another. The Great Evangelical Awakening largely capitalised on colonial expansion and the transatlantic trade to reach new audiences, for instance. Conversely, some radical minorities rejected these evolutions and instead founded self-sufficient societies based on communal property on the model of the New Jerusalem. But who exactly funded these religious enterprises, how and why? What was the relationship, if any, between commercial and religious networks? To what extent did economic opportunities encourage religious migrations? Did dissenting attitudes towards wealth change from one generation to the next?

This two-day workshop will explore the influence of a globalising, capitalist economy on the religious concepts and practices of the long eighteenth-century. In so doing, it hopes to bring together economic historians and historians of religion to reassess the logistics and dynamics of Christian enterprises in a transnational context.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

– Confessional and inter-confessional trade
– The funding of missionary activities
– Communal property and utopian communities
– Religious and economic migrations
– The material culture of religious enterprises


Abstracts (250-300 words) for a 20-minute paper should be sent directly to lionel.laborie@uni-tuebingen.de by 15 October 2016. Selected abstracts will be notified by 1 November 2016.



Lionel Laborie

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
72074 Tübingen