Nation, Past, and Religion: Religious Memories of National Pasts in the Post-Communist Space

Nation, Past, and Religion: Religious Memories of National Pasts in the Post-Communist Space

International Seminar
25-26 January 2024

In the aftermath of the collapse of Communism, animated debates around national pasts were center stage in the post-Communist countries, a situation which Tony Judt (1992) described as “too much memory” and Charles Maier (1993) as a surfeit of it. Today, over thirty years into the post-Communist transition, memories of national pasts still play a role of utmost importance in social and political life in the post-Communist space: they are used as construction material for building nations and forging national identities; they are employed for bolstering the legitimacy of nation-states and political regimes; they are invoked to justify (at times highly controversial) political moves; they play a crucial role in inter-state relations, often becoming the source of tension and conflict. In many instances, religious symbolism influences the way(s) national pasts are narrated. Furthermore, while religious interpretations of national pasts are growing in importance, national churches become influential mnemonic actors on contested markets of national narratives.

“Nation, Past, and Religion: Religious Memories of National Pasts in the Post-Communist Space” will be an interdisciplinary international seminar focusing on the complex ways that nation, religion, and past are tied together: religious concepts, myths, symbols, and metaphors shape the way the national pasts are narrated; nationalisms influence the religious outlook on national pasts; memories of national past and religious beliefs intertwine in national imaginations.

 The topics to be discussed at the seminar include (but are not limited to):

  • Religion, past, and nation-building: religious memories of national pasts and imagining post-Communist nations.
  • Religious symbolism and memories of difficult (Communist) pasts: memories of WWII and the Communist terror.
  • (National) martyrdom and (difficult) past: martyrological memories of Communism.
  • Cultural representations of religious memories: religious interpretations of national pasts in theatre, literature, and film.
  • National pasts and the politicization of religion: the political use of religious interpretations of national pasts.
  • Pasts, religions and the production of the 21st century patriotism.
  • Religious institutions as mnemonic actors on the contested markets of interpretations of national pasts.
  • Churches, states, and memory politics in the post-Communist space.
  • National churches in memory wars.

The seminar will bring together historians, sociologists, and political scientists, both experienced and early-career researchers, from both within and without Poland.

The seminar will take place over two days and will be held at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, on 25-26 January 2024.

The seminar is organized by Ekaterina V. Klimenko and is funded by the National Science Center, Poland within the grant No UMO-2019/33/N/HS6/00330 (2020-2024).


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