CALL FOR PAPERS: Global Orthodoxy Religion, Politics, and Human Rights

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: Global Orthodoxy Religion, Politics, and Human Rights

Padua (Italy), May 12, 2017

During the last decades, sociological interest in religion and globalization has grown due to the novelty of socio-political, economic, and cultural changes, which forced existing religious groups and organizations to revise and redesign their own institutional structures, practices, and agendas. The role and place of Orthodox Christianity in this process is still understudied, while it is affected worldwide by multifaceted societal changes during the last 30 years: the end of communism, international migration, growth of religious diversity, entering the European Union, the secularization processes, and human rights challenges. This conference intends to highlight three intertwined aspects – religion, politics, and human rights – related to the global context of Orthodox Christianity.

Globalization has fostered the spread of religious traditions outside of their territorial boundaries, reconfiguring the religious landscape globally. After the fall of communism, Orthodox Christianity has expanded into new geographical regions traditionally not considered as part of the Orthodox world. These encounters with host countries have produced several dynamics that may change traditional forms of Orthodoxy. For example, part of the Orthodox diaspora in the US is characterized by a process that leads a local church to renegotiate the link between ethnic and religious identity; while in Western Europe as well as in Australia and Canada, migration flows to these regions have favored maintaining transnational ties with the motherland and reproducing their ethnic identities. Concurrently, the dynamics of globalization have forced a new way of structuring and practicing religion within so called Orthodox countries. As such, global Orthodoxy, from a religious perspective, entails a plurality of cultures, traditions, and identities, including a constellation of ecclesiological and theological perspectives.

After the end of communism, Orthodox Christianity became a new geopolitical actor in international affairs, operating as a stakeholder in international relations and acquiring an ever-increasing role in the European construction process. In turn, changes to the church-state relation (symphonia) in Eastern Orthodox countries are circumscribing a new physiognomy while the states of the host countries begin a relationship with Orthodox churches in the diaspora. The documents approved by the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete in July 2016 seem to be consistent with this global dimension as well as the geopolitical dynamics behind this event.

These transformations at the religious and political levels must now face the challenges related to human rights issues. Considering the European and International norms for human rights, debates within Orthodox Christianity reveal a multifarious relationship to these norms as theological argumentation remains ambiguous. These discussions have uncovered various patterns of relations between Orthodox Christianity and human rights in different countries, ranging from open hostility to more accommodating attitudes. Indeed, the question of human rights was one of the main issues of conflict in the process of European integration for Eastern countries and one of the main challenges for Eastern Orthodoxy. Heated debates within global Orthodox Christianity on religious freedom, abortion, euthanasia, gender, interreligious dialogue, and religious pluralism outlines different critical or supportive modes of engagement with the human rights tradition.

Participants are invited to address these issues and propose papers in line with the conference rationale, particularly in relation to the following topics:

  • Orthodox churches as stakeholders in international relations;
  • The role of Orthodox churches in European integration;
  • Challenges for the established model of Church-state relations in Orthodox countries and the process of globalization;
  • Orthodox diaspora: between new homeland and traditional roots;
  • Modes of hybridization and innovation in Orthodox churches in the diaspora: organizational, community, and individual practices;
  • Demography of Global Orthodoxy;
  • Patterns of relationship between Orthodox Christianity and human rights: comparative perspectives on different countries;
  • Church-state relations and the human rights agenda: contentions and challenges for Orthodox Christianity;
  • Human rights and inter-Orthodox dialogue;
  • After the Pan-Orthodox Council: the future of human rights in the Orthodox world.

Confirmed keynote speakers

  • Alexander Agadjanian, Russian State University for Humanities in Moscow
  • Maria Hämmerli, University of Fribourg
  • Alexei Krindatch, Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA
  • Vasilios Makrides, University of Erfurt
  • Kathy Rousselet, SciencesPo, Paris
  • Kristina Stoeckl, University of Innsbruck

The international conference is organized by the Joint PhD Programme on “Human Rights, Society, and Multi-level Governance” (Universities of Athens-Panteion, Padua, Western Sydney, Zagreb).

Scientific Committee

  • Effie Fokas, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Study (ELIAMEP)
  • Giuseppe Giordan, University of Padua
  • Constantin Preda, University of Bucharest
  • Siniša Zrinščak, University of Zagreb

Key Dates

  • January 15th, 2017 – Abstracts (300 words) should be sent to Giuseppe Giordan (giuseppe.giordan@unipd.it)
  • February 10th, 2017 – Acceptance notification

There are no fees for attendance