Michael Nausner, researcher

Michael is researcher at the Church of Sweden Research Department. His research field is systematic theology with a focus on intercultural and postcolonial theology as well as theological perspectives on migration and cultural diversity.

About me, Michael

I grew up in Austria with a Swedish mother and an Austrian father, which early on sparked within me an interest for the role of culture in church and society. Especially my studies in the USA awakened my interest for intercultural questions. Inspired by various theories of culture (above all postcolonial theory) I developed a theological boundary hermeneutic, i.e. I reflected on the significance of boundaries for cultural and religious identity. More recently I started to develop a theological understanding of migration and intercultural identity and discovered participation as a key term for theological reflection.

Key words

intercultural theology, participation, postcolonial theory och theology, societal theology (samhällsteologi), theology and migration


  • Researcher at the Church of Sweden Research Department (from 2017)
  • Professor of systematic theology at Reutlingen School of Theology (2005-2017)
  • Doctor of Philosophy at Drew University (2005)
  • Master of Philosophy at Drew University (2002)
  • Teaching engagements at Drew and Fordham University (2001-2002)
  • Ministry in Sweden and the USA (1992-1998 and 2003-2005)
  • Master of Divinity at Uppsala University (1992)
  • Theological studies in Germany, Sweden, and the USA

My current research

A Theology of Participation

In Western (systematic and philosophical) theology participation is an underestimated category, David Tracy maintained in the beginning of this millennium. Inspired by this observation I have spent some years (re)discovering this category as a fruitful lens through which to observe reality. An advantage of the term in public conversation is that it is usable in religious and secular contexts alike. Starting from a basic understanding of salvation as participation in God’s loving transformation of the world I have used participation in courses, lectures, and article to shed new light on various theological questions. A manuscript is developing in which I treat classic ecclesiological phenomena such as community, Holy Communion and prayer, but also societal questions concerning migration and intercultural conditions from the perspective of participation. Parts of the German manuscript will eventually be worked over and translated into Swedish and English.

Theology and Migration

Migration is currently changing the European landscape for good. In the media, in politics, in the public debate, but also in the academy this change is discussed ceaselessly. However, more detailed analyses from a theological perspective are still largely missing. In publications and lectures I have tried to shed light on migration not so much as a phenomenon which church and theology need to relate to, but rather as the context par excellence for church and theology. I try to theologically reflect phenomena such as multiple belonging, cultural hybridity, and constructed identity, often in conversation with postcolonial and other cultural theories. I do not consider migration as an exceptional condition which theology (reluctantly or not) needs to react to, but rather as a constant human reality – a conditio humana – and a source for theological insight.

My publications

Participating in Christ. Therapeutic Dimensions in Christian Discipleship from a Wesleyan Perspective, in: Martin Wendte (ed.), Jesus der Heiler und die Gesundheitsgesellschaft. Interdisziplinäre und internationale Perspektiven, Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.

Changing Identities, Changing Narratives. Can Theology Contribute to A New Cultural Imagination of Migration?, in: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society (J-RaT), Vol 3, Religion and Migration, 2017.

Reimagining Boundaries in Europe. Migrant Utopias and theological Eschatology, in: Elaine Padilla och Peter Phan (eds.), Christianities in Migration. The Global Perspective, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Im Grenzraum der Verwandlung. Reflexionen zur partizipatorischen Dimension des Gebets, in: Johan Hafner, Julia Enxing, André Munzinger (eds.), Gebetslogik. Reflexionen aus interkonfessioneller Perspektive, Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2016.

Wagnis an der Grenze. Reflexionen zur Mission im postkolonialen Kontext, in: Theologisches Gespräch. Freikirchliche Beiträge zur Theologie, 39. Jg. Heft 3, 2015.

Imagining Participation from a Boundary Perspective. Postcolonial Theology as Migratory Theology, in: Julia Dahlvik, Christoph Reinprecht, Wiebke Sievers (eds.), Migration und Integration – wissenschaftliche Perspektiven aus Österreich, Jahrbuch 2/2013, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.