Benedikt Kastner is currently a Ph.D. student at the department of Religious Studies and World Christianity at the University of Hamburg in Germany. He earned his BA in Religious Studies and Philosophy (2009-2013) and his MA in Religious Studies (2013-2015) at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. During his studies he focused on the materiality of religion as well as the discourses of mindfulness, religious rhetoric and Buddhist Modernism. At the University of Berne, Switzerland (2011) and at the Saint Petersburg State University, Russia (2013) he was able to deepen this focus in relation to the intersection of media and religion. From 2013 to 2016, Kastner collected journalistic work experiences in German television channels in Berlin, Augsburg (Germany), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Moscow.
In his Ph.D. project, Kastner analyzes the discourse of mindfulness apps in relation to neoliberal conceptions of self-optimization and self-transformation. One of his main research questions focuses on how authenticity is produced in mindfulness apps via processes of branding. His research interests include the discourses of media and religion, religion and emotions, material religion, mindfulness and evangelical faith healing. Kastner was a Fulbright Vistinig Researcher at CMRC in Boulder during the summer of 2018.