PD Dr. Bernd-Christian Otto

Bild von Bernd-Christian Otto

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"

Home Institution: Max Weber Centre, University of Erfurt

IKGF Visiting Fellow April 2019 – March 2021

IKGF Research Project:

Pondering the Relationship between Magic and Divination in Occidental History: A Historical and Typological Study Based on the Leipzig Cod. Mag. Collection

Curriculum Vitae

After having taken my Abitur in Asperg (Baden-Württemberg), I studied religious studies (Religionswissenschaft), philosophy and psychology at the university of Heidelberg and acquired my M.A. in 2003. Between 2004 and 2007, I worked as an ethics teacher at several grammar schools (Gymnasien) in Heidelberg. In December 2009 I finished my PhD on the conceptual history of magic (published in 2011 by de Gruyter). Between 2010 and 2018, I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher and coordinator of various research projects and groups at the university of Erfurt and the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies. In December 2017, I defended my Habilitation at the university of Erfurt and received the venia legendi for Religionswissenschaft. From October 2018 to March 2019, I worked as a research fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg at the university of Bochum, with the project "Mapping Modern Magic(k)".

Selected Publications


2017(with Daniel Bellingradt) Magical Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe. The Clandestine Trade in Illegal Book Collections, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
2011Magie. Rezeptions- und diskursgeschichtliche Analysen von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit [Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 57], Berlin: De Gruyter.

Books Edited

(with Martin Fuchs et al.) Religious Individualisation: Historical Dimensions and Comparative Perspectives, Berlin: de Gruyter (forthcoming).
2015(with Susanne Rau and Jörg Rüpke) History and Religion: Narrating a Religious Past [Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 68], Berlin: de Gruyter.
2013(with Michael Stausberg) Defining Magic. A Reader, Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.


"If people believe in magic, isn't that just because they aren't educated?", in: Wouter Hanegraaff, Marco Pasi, Peter Forshaw (eds.), Hermes Explains: Thirty-Five Questions about Western Esotericism. Celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the chair for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press (forthcoming).
"The Illuminates of Thanateros and the Institutionalization of Religious Individualization", in: Fuchs/Linkenbach-Fuchs/Mulsow/Otto/Parson/Rüpke (ed.), Religious Individualisation: Historical Dimensions and Comparative Perspectives, Berlin: de Gruyter (forthcoming).
2018"'Magie im Islam'. Eine diskursgeschichtliche Perspektive", in: Sebastian Günther and Dorothee Lauer (eds.), Die Geheimnisse der höheren und der niederen Welt: Magie im Islam zwischen Glaube und Wissenschaft, Leiden: Brill, pp. 515-546.
2017"Magic and Religious Individualization: On the construction and deconstruction of analytical categories in the Study of Religion", in: Historia Religionum 9, pp. 29-52.
2016"Historicising 'Western learned magic': preliminary remarks", in: Aries 16, pp. 161–240.
2013"Towards historicizing 'Magic' in Antiquity", in: NUMEN International Review for the History of Religions 60, 2/3, pp. 308-347.