Religion - Symbol - Communication. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Early Modern Period
Call for Papers Date:
»Religion – Symbol – Communication.
The Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania in the Early Modern Period«
Ed. Yvonne Kleinmann, Simon Dubnow Institute, Leipzig
The project is meant to contribute to the neglected research on the communication between the many Christian denominations and other religious communities in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the decline of the Reformation/s. It concentrates on the concrete impact of the tension between the principle of religious tolerance and the claims to power of Catholicism on daily interaction, based on diverse faith-anchored cultures, value systems and symbols.
Addressees: scholars in East European and Slavic Studies, Comparative Studies in Religion, Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, Art History, Literary Studies, Ethnology and Historical Anthropology.
A frequently used synonym for the pre-modern Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania is the »Republic of the many peoples/nations«, and more recently, of the many »denominations«. Often in the same breath there is mention of the principle of tolerance toward the non-Christian religious communities in the kingdom, which was anchored in numerous privileges issued by the king and the landowning nobility, and the guarantee of individual freedom of religion for members of the ruling nobility since the controversial Tolerance Act of the Warsaw Confederation in 1573 and the Third Lithuanian Statute of 1588. Until the end of the »Republic of Nobles«, the guarantee for these freedoms was in conflict with the constitutionally anchored dominance of the Catholic Church, which also demanded respect from non-Catholics. One consequence of this were religious migrations and unrest springing from religious conflicts. There is little research to date on the concrete impact of this tension between tolerance and the claims to power of Catholicism on daily communication between the individual religious communities and denominations.
In recent years, a number of authors (including Gershon Hundert, Wojciech Kriegseisen, Michael G. Müller and Magda Teter) have emphasized that Catholicism in Poland-Lithuania, even after the great successes of the Counter-Reformation, was neither consolidated, homogeneous nor without competitors in the realm of religious practice. Particularly at a regional and local level, other denominations and religious communities temporarily had a similar or even greater cultural importance, such as Protestants in the west, or Greek-Catholics, Greek-Orthodox and Jews in the east. It is also likely that there were various forms of religious syncretism. Given the decentralized structures of rule, the formal predominance of the Catholic religion, in the sense of an alliance with the absolutist state familiar from polities in Central and Western Europe, was never fully consummated.
The planned volume will look at localities and landscapes in Poland-Lithuania as a space of communication for diverse faith-anchored cultures and value systems. The proposed point of analytical departure is less one of clear hierarchies and more a dynamic process of constant negotiation, in which the effort to guarantee public order was always at the same time geared to the ideals of divine order. Public space is of interest primarily in its dimension as a sacred and religiously encoded space. In order to draft a history of Poland-Lithuania integrated in a religious/denominational sense, studies should attempt to identify the conflicting symbols and cultural texts of the individual communities of faith, comparing and contrasting these in their differing articulations and variant readings. In the analysis of widely illiterate societies, elements and monuments of material culture, such as buildings and visual representations, as well as folk culture in its diverse forms, are of special importance. These might not exclusively be explored through historical source criticism, but also through approaches in ethnography, art history, literary and religious studies. The time frame proposed for investigation is limited mainly to the period 1633-1795, i.e between the decline of the Polish Reformations(s) and the involuntary dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian state.
The call for papers is addressed to scholars working in the fields of East European History, Comparative Studies in Religion, Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, Art History, Literary Studies, Ethnology and Historical Anthropology. The religious spectrum of the project encompasses Roman Catholics, Protestants, Greek-Catholics, Greek-Orthodox, Armenians, Jews and Muslims. Among possible foci are investigations of public rituals and ceremonies (pilgrimage, cult of saints, Purim processions, etc.), strategies of maintaining boundaries and identity, religious connotations of economic practices, sacred foundations of legal systems, gender-specific communication, the perception of military threat as religious threat and related topics. In addition, also welcome as an introduction to methodology are theoretical papers on the guiding theme »religion – symbol – communication«, grounded on the broad array of methods and instruments in the cultural sciences.
Proposals for papers (only previously unpublished texts, in German or English, maximum length 40,000 characters) are requested in the form of a one-page abstract. The deadline is April 6, 2006. Please send to email@example.com. The selection of papers will be completed by mid-April 2006. In the course of writing the authors will be given the opportunity to enter into intense communication about the scope and content of their contributions.
Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University
D-04103 Leipzig Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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