Ambiguities of Shame (AMOS): Interdisciplinary Contemporary Theology

Navn på bevillingshaver

Mikkel Gabriel Christoffersen


University of Copenhagen


DKK 1,131,277




Reintegration Fellowships


My project, Ambiguities of Shame: Interdisciplinary Systematic Theology (AMOS) puts together insights from various disciplines to acquire a nuanced view of the phenomenon of shame. My main hypothesis is that shame is ambiguous: On the one hand, shame threatens to deteriorate one's basic sense of self. This aspect of shame initiates an effort to get rid of shame. On the other hand, shame contributes to the personal, moral, and social formation of human beings. This aspect of shame invites us to nourish a sense of shame. But how do we deal with such ambiguity? Specifically, how has the Christian religion described and used the phenomenon of shame? And how might the Christian symbol system contribute to a constructive life with shame - between shamefulness and shamelessness?


The project will conduct an interdisciplinary dialogue on the topic of shame between theology and neighboring disciplines. The scientific importance of this is twofold: The import value into theology will be the opportunity of reformulating central insights of Christian theology about the brokenness and relationality of human existence in a contextually more adequate way. The export value of this project will be aiding a broader range of psychologists, sociologists, and philosophers in emphasizing the significance of religious and non-religious shame for human self-understanding, relationality, and sociality.


The method of AMOS is textual studies. I will critically interpret, combine, and thereby actualize a textual material. This material consists of relevant theology, specifically pastoral theology, reformation theology, and liberation theology, and leading scholarship on shame within the fields of philosophy, psychology, and sociology. My study of these texts will be problem oriented. I will explore how Christian theology has contributed to healthy and hurtful shame. I will investigate what the phenomenon of shame reveals about human identity. And I will seek to understand how experiences of shame play into the social struggle for recognition of various types of identities. These textual studies will be conducted in close consultation with relevant international research environments.

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