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Religion and Political Identity

Session Chair: N.N. | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Maximilian Herchen

Between Politics and Religion: The Corpus Christi Feast and the Day of the Proletarian Child in the First Republic of Austria

My paper inquires into the relationship between politics and religion in the First Republic of Austria. In the First Republic the Social Democrats and the Christian Socials were the predominant social, cultural, and political forces contending for the power of interpretation and domination in society. In order to grasp these struggles, I will focus on selected public religious and secular festivals which I will analyze using approaches from ritual studies. Such festivals enable comparative analysis in the border area between religion and politics, and they allow us an insight into the rivalries as well as the conscious appropriation of the respective other’s celebrations, symbolism, and language. My two case studies will be the public celebrations of the Corpus Christi Feast and the Day of the Proletarian Child in Vienna.

Gunilla Gunner

Memory Politics, Materiality and Collective Identities - St Catherine Swedish Congregation in St Petersburg around the turn of two Centuries

St Catherine Swedish Congregation in St Petersburg has been attributed properties and values, and formed the arena for a wide range of people from Sweden, Finland and other countries. There are major differences between the cosmopolitan St Petersburg around 1900 and the post-Soviet city in 2000 but the common history with collective memories, and material remnants of buildings, archives and sites are conspicuous. The major political changes starting in the 1990ies illustrate the altering history in this multi religious city. This paper investigate and compare the role that this church has played in two periods in order to detect the political, economic and religious changes as well as cultural continuity. The building and its function as an arena for collective and individual memory and identity formation is the focus. Memory politics and analysis of political and religious use of history are combined with the international field called cultural memory studies.

Tomasz Niezgoda

In the Face of Political Nonbeing - Sacralization of Polish Nation

It seems that for the history of Poland crucial factor are events of partitions in the XVIII century and the loss of independence until the 1918. Since then religious traditions of Poland refer to the meaning and persistence of Polish nation. I would like to show two different cases of sacralization of the nation. The first case is the messianism of romantic poet – Adam Mickiewicz – who created a myth of Poland as second Christ, the messiah of nations creating eschatological realm of freedom. The second example is Antrovis, contemporary Polish UFO NRM. For Antrovis Polish nation is responsible for the restoration of all beings to the unity with universe. Despite the differences between those two movements one thing seems enduring – the sacralization of nation in the face of political nonbeing. In my paper I would like to discuss the nature of this sacralization.

Eila Helander

The changing role of national churches in the European Union: a case study of Finland

EU membership brings a new dimension to the research on the state-church –relations. The changing role of the nation-state in the EU and the increasing transfer of powers to Brussels have put the national churches in a new situation. This paper focuses on how a national church, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), perceives its role in the changing political situation and what kind of strategies it employs to secure its interests. Data consists of interviews and written documents. The public religion and advocacy points of view form the theoretical framework. Results reveal that the ELCF shows signs of adopting a more proactive role in the political field than what has been the case in the past. The deepening of Europe’s integration cannot be overlooked when studying the role of religion in the public domain even at the national level; state-church –relations extend beyond the national boundaries.


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