2022 Spring Seminar Schedule: Working Group on Lived Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Catherine Wanner's picture
January 27, 2022 to April 28, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Area Studies, Russian or Soviet History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Jewish History / Studies


2022 Spring Seminar Schedule

Working Group on Lived Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Zoom link for all events:  https://psu.zoom.us/j/3257831800?pwd=cEFqL2tmd1pUcnFlS1RyN3Y5RE5XQT09


27 January 2022, 19:00-20:15 CET

Joel Robbins

Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, United Kingdom

Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life 

With commentary by Birgit Meyer, Professor of Religious Studies, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Book Presentation

Both sociocultural anthropology and theology have made fundamental contributions to our understanding of human experience and the place of humanity in the world.  But can these two disciplines, despite the radical differences that separate them, work together to transform their thinking on these topics?  I argue that they can.  To make this point, I draw on key theological discussions of atonement, eschatology, interruption, passivity, and judgement to rethink important anthropological debates about such topics as ethical life, radical change, the ways people live in time, agency, gift giving, and the nature of humanity.  The result is both a sustained reconsideration of important aspects of anthropological theory through theological categories and a series of careful readings of influential theologians such as Moltmann, Pannenberg, Jüngel, and Dalferth informed by rich ethnographic accounts of the lives of Christians from around the world.  In conclusion, I draw on contemporary discussions of secularism to interrogate the secular foundations of anthropology and suggests that the differences between anthropology and theology surrounding this topic can provide a foundation for transformative dialogue between them, rather than being an obstacle to it.  Written as a work of interdisciplinary anthropological theorizing, this book also offers theologians an introduction to some of the most important ground covered by burgeoning field of the anthropology of Christianity while guiding anthropologists into core areas of theological discussion.  Although theoretically ambitious, the book is clearly argued throughout and written to be accessible to all readers in the social sciences, theology, and religious studies interested in the place of religion in social life and human experience.    


24 February 2022, 19:00-20:15 CET

Alla Marchenko

Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw)

Hasidic Pilgrimages and Local Memory: Belz, Bobowa, Leżajsk, and Uman

With commentary by Jeanne Kormina, Professor of Anthropology, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia

Work in Progress

Hasidic pilgrimages to many localities in Eastern and Central Europe belong to distinctive post-Communist transformations in the region connected with freedom of travel and speech, as well as with interest in local history. In this presentation, the focus will be on four localities, whose position on cognitive maps of Jewish pre-war life significantly exceeds their role in today’s Poland and Ukraine. How are the agents of memory of each town dealing with the phenomenon of contemporary mass pilgrimages? What are the effects of Hasidic pilgrimage for local memoryscapes? What meanings do the pilgrimages have for local inhabitants, and how are they connected to inclusion/dismissal of pilgrimages into local memory frames? The results of this research demonstrate that, despite the uniqueness of each case, there are similarities in patterns of local memory, which offers a wider perspective to the field of cultural memory.


31 March 2022, 19:00-20:15 CET

Yuliya Yurchuk

Umea University, Sweden

Zuzanna Bogumil

Institute of Archeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Memory and Religion from a Post-Secular Perspective

With commentary by Miriam Dobson, Department of History, University of Sheffield, UK, and Stanisław Obirek, Professor of Humanities, American Studies Center, Warsaw University

Book Presentation

The editors call for a postsecular turn in memory studies to provide a more reflective and meaningful approach to the constant interplay between the religious and the secular. This opens up new perspectives on the intersection of memory and religion and helps memory scholars become more aware of the religious roots of the language they are using in their studies of memory. By drawing on examples from different parts of the world, the contributors to this volume explain how the interactions between the religious and the secular produce new memory forms and content in the heterogenous societies of the present-day world. The cases analysed demonstrate that religion has a significant impact on cultural memory, family memory, and the contemporary politics of history in secularized societies. At the same time, politics, grassroots movements, and different secular agents and processes have so much influence on the formation of memory by religious actors that even religious, ecclesiastic and confessional memories are affected by the secular.


28 April 2022, 19:00-20:15 CET

Tetiana Kalenychenko

Independent researcher, European Center for Strategic Analytics, Kyiv, Ukraine

The Religious Factor in Conflict and Peacebuilding: The Potential of Religious Communities in Ukraine

PAX International, 2021: https://paxforpeace.nl/what-we-do/publications/the-religious-factor-in-conflict?fbclid=IwAR2avlTKEdA3w7JwsFCJnkqRWR1IQOaA06umjX26YgBFwo06puGQuRnKrDk

Work in Progress

The aim of this study is to explore the peacebuilding potential of Ukrainian religious communities by focusing on individual communities in two target areas (Volyn and Donbas). We identify opportunities for peace and the destructive influences of religion on the social and political situation during armed conflict. What is the connection between religion and war? Is it possible to talk about a theology of peace, and if so how? We will link the Ukrainian case to issues within the global context.


With commentary by Robert Hayden, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Law and Public & International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, United States


Contact Info: 

Catherine Wanner'

Penn State University

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