Workshop on ‘Prefigurative Politics’ as a Lens for Researching Religious Practices

On Friday 25 February 2022, Professor dr Peter-Ben Smit (VU/UU), Professor dr Mariecke van den Berg (VU/RU) and dr Mathijs van de Sande (RU) organise an exploratory workshop on the concept of prefigurative politics. It aims to probe the potential of the concept of, and theory belonging to, the notion of ‘prefigurative politics’ for research into theology and religion. This represents an innovation in both the field of religious studies and theology and in that of political philosophy, the field from which the notion of ‘prefigurative politics’ stems, given that the bridge that this workshop seeks to build does not exist yet: political philosophers employing a ‘prefigurative’ approach are not concerned with religion or theology and vice versa.

Prefigurative politics, ‘an experimental political practice in which the ends of one’s actions are mirrored in the means applied in their realisation’, is a relatively recent model, used in the analysis of contemporary movements such ‘Occupy’. First developed in the 1970s, the concept facilitates overcoming dichotomies such as that between means and end (the end is present in the means), and between a future ideal and the present: the future is already there in the present through its prefigurative performance in communal practices. The potential of the concept of ‘prefigurative politics’ to dismantle dichotomies makes it a promising approach for rethinking a number of dichotomies that are related to theology and religious studies.

This workshop has been funded by NOSTER. It takes place in Utrecht on 25 February 2022 from 9:30 until 17:00. For more information, please contact Peter-Ben Smit (