Institut für Historische Theologie


Dr. Maria Birnbaum

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin IFK-Projekt 3 und 12

Interfakultäre Forschungskooperation "Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies"

Maria Birnbaum is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Berne. She received her Ph.D in International Relations from the European University Institute (EUI) in 2015.

She works in the fields of

  • Global Politics
  • Religious Studies
  • Colonial History

Maria Birnbaum studies question of diversity, knowledge and non-knowledge, power, religion, and the secular. Her work analyzes the relationship between diversity and order with a particular focus on religion and international political order.

Maria Birnbaum is currently part of the project "Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies" at the University of Bern where she is working on a series of articles exploring 1) the conditions and limits of liberal diversity governance, and 2) the transnational history and politics of Israel and Pakistan.

She is also finalizing a book manuscript titled Becoming Recognizable analyzing arguments for the recognition of religion in global politics. Studying in detail both theoretical arguments and colonial practices she shows how religion became internationally recognizable as a source of difference, independence, and sovereignty in colonial British India and Mandate Palestine.

Her most recent publication Recognizing diversity: Establishing religious difference in Pakistan and Israel analyzes the conditions of epistemological change in the international politics of religion. It was published in the volume Culture and Order in World Politics with Cambridge University Press in 2020, winner of the International Studies Association’s book award for best edited book in International Theory.

In her new project The Politics of the Unknown and The Costs of Recognition Maria Birnbaum is looking at the conditions and epistemology of diversity. In a forthcoming project on the Epistemologies of Ignorance she is studying global practices of non-knowledge in and beyond the late British Empire.

Maria Birnbaum has co-edited the series Beyond Critique published with The Immanent Frame and Religious Pluralism: A Resource Book.

She was a visiting fellow at Northwestern University, USA, and Lund University, Sweden and held positions at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany; Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), Florence, Italy; Oslo University (UiO), Norway; and Berne University, Switzerland. Her main archival work was conducted in New Delhi, India, Geneva, Switzerland, London, and Oxford, UK. Maria Birnbaum’s research has been funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the Swedish Research Council, and the Norwegian Research Council.