Press Release: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Heritage in Contemporary Europe

5 December, 2023

Editors: Todd H. Weir and Lieke Wijnia 

5 December 2023

The long-awaited Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Heritage in Contemporary Europe has just been published. This state-of-the-art guide is available online and open access, and is a valuable resource for teachers, students, academics, heritage professionals and anyone interested in religious heritage. It offers readers 44 contributions by leading international scholars, policy makers and heritage practitioners, who explore the key challenges facing the organizations, churches, and government bodies concerned with religion and heritage.

The book is organized around major themes, including the place of heritage in Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, and the relationship of heritage to the (post)secular, sacred texts, museums, architecture and contemporary art. Through case studies and analyses, the contributions explore some of the key challenges currently facing religious heritage in a rapidly changing landscape. They track the shifting significance of Europe’s historic churches, synagogues, and mosques, many of which are caught between declining numbers of worshippers, increasing numbers of tourists, and the pressure to find new uses. Many contributions also touch on the key role heritage is playing in political discourse, where it is mobilized to include or exclude religious minorities.

Prominent heritage scholars have already acclaimed the book. Gretchen Buggeln, a leading US expert on religion in museums, called it a “much needed collection of timely essays that open an expansive window onto creative and thoughtful contemporary approaches to the preservation and use of both material and intangible heritage.“  According to Cyril Isnart, co-editor  of the Religious Heritage Complex (2020), the volume “will feed debates on religion and identity, ritual and materiality, diversity and nationalism, post-secular dynamics, minority empowerment and theoretical challenges to religion-heritage relations.”

The book emerged from a multi-year cooperation of Dutch and international heritage organizations and the University of Groningen. Its editors are Todd H. Weir, professor of history of Christianity and former director of the Groningen Centre for Religion and Heritage, and Lieke Wijnia, who is Head of Curation and Library at Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht.

Weir stated that “the Handbook represents a milestone in both religious studies and heritage studies alike. While the volume touches on all regions of Europe, we have over 20 contributions by Dutch-based scholars and activists. As such, the book will be of particular interest to Dutch readers, as it showcases the creative and democratic responses to religious heritage now taking place in our universities and organizations.”

The book can be accessed for free via the Bloomsbury website

Or  ordered in a print version at

There will be a book launch at the University of Groningen on Tuesday afternoon, January 23, 2024. For further information on the book or launch,  please contact

Todd Weir ( or Lieke Wijnia (

This volume includes papers by Christoph Baumgartner and Birgit Meyer.