The International Research Project “Old Borders – New Frontiers: Orthodox Christianity and the European Integration” initiated by the University of Muenster, Germany, and the Institute for Eastern Christian Studies, Nijmegen, Netherlands, in cooperation with Russian State University for Humanities, Moscow, Russia, and Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj, Romania) invites to the International Conference on September 15-17, 2011 in Leuven (Belgium) and Brussels on
“Orthodox Christian Tradition and the Integration of Europe”
By 2005, with the enlargement of the European Union, Orthodox Christianity has become a significant religious player along with other Christian confessions in Europe: Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus or Finland have an Orthodox majority, but Eastern rite Christians also form a significant minority in countries like Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and in the diaspora communities of quite a row of Western European Countries. The general attitude of the Orthodox Churches towards Europe, however, remains ambiguous, as became obvious on various occasions. “Tradition” and “traditional values” are terms mostly referred to when representatives of Orthodox Christianity critically comment key developments of the European Integration.
Taken in this context, Orthodox Christian tradition seems, at first sight, to be basically opposed to crucial elements of modernity which are simultaneously held to be central for the European Integration, such as human rights, market economy, secular state, religious pluralism etc. However, this impression has been widely contested. Others have argued that it is precisely this Orthodox tradition, e.g. with its understanding of human nature and with its decentralized church structures, which offers multiple possibilities to understand and practice democracy, religious tolerance, human rights and the like. Furthermore, opinions among Orthodox theologians about what really forms the core of tradition are anything but uniform, oscillating between a rather concrete set of rites and ethical norms, and a mystical understanding of the presence of the Holy Spirit within the Christian Church.
Against this background, the conference wants to address a set of questions that emerge out of this apparent ambiguity, exploring the possibilities and chances as much as the dangers and hindrances for the European Integration which all might be connected with the impact of Christian Orthodox tradition on elite discourses and popular attitudes among various European communities. Crucial questions in this respect might be: What is to be understood by the very term “Eastern Orthodox tradition” and how it theologically is interpreted in connection to “European values”? How does Eastern Orthodox theology, on this base, refer to such issues as human rights, economic development, secular politics, religious pluralism etc.? What are consequences for social or political activities of Eastern Orthodox clergy and laity given the variety of their approaches ? What are possible political and cultural alliances in which Eastern Orthodoxies can be involved on the European public arena?
The conference seeks to bring together experts on different levels from all disciplines, such as theology and philosophy, church history, religious studies, sociology, political science, etc. Theoretical approaches, general explorations and case studies are equally welcome. Proposals should be submitted by May 1st, 2011 to
Alfons Bruening PhD, Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen (NL):
www.ru.nl/ivoc, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For those whose paper proposals have been accepted travel costs can be fully covered.
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)