04 - 05 April 2022, 23:00 - 23:00
New College, University of Oxford
Invited audience only

Christian traditions have historically negotiated their relationship to the nation within paradigms of the universal and the particular: holding together the idea of the one body of Christ with a variety of public expressions in local, regional, national as well as transnational spaces. Christian traditions can draw on this multi-layered sense of theo-political identity when they critically engage populist claims to Christianity which single out the national space.

The concept of the nation itself represents an ambiguity between the universal and the particular; providing a universalist political imaginary framed around the sovereignty of political communities, whilst also remaining profoundly dependent on its reception in particular social and political contexts. What remains underexplored, is how different Christian traditions – Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic – articulate and critique the relationship between Christianity and the nation; how theo-political interests shape their response to politicised appeals to culturalised ‘Christianism’; and how alliances with populist movements reflect on the multi-layered character of Christian identity.

The conference is part of the project on Protestant Political Thought, now a collaboration between the Blavatnik School of Government and the Cambridge Centre for Geopolitics. This project is non-partisan and non-sectarian.

This conference is by invitation only. Please email marietta.vandertol@bsg.ox.ac.uk for more information.

Monday 4 April

Registration / coffee & tea – 8:45-9:15

9:30-10:30 Opening & mini-lecture ‘Christian identity formation in trans-liminal space’ – Mariëtta van der Tol (University of Oxford) Chair: Sophia Johnson (University of Cambridge) – 

Break – 10:30-10:50

Panel 1: Theoretical Foundations – 10:50-11:45

  • ‘Nationalist religion and religious nationalism in nineteenth-century Europe’ – Tamás Nyirkos (Pázmány Péter Catholic University)
  • ‘Religion, secularity, culture? Intersections of secular and Christian hegemony in contemporary Europe - Sophie Lauwers (University of Aberdeen)
  • ‘The Christian Revenge: Religious actors as the champions of illiberalism in Central Europe’ – Petr Krátochvil (Institute for International Relations Prague)
  • ‘Christian identity between nation and the Christ’ – Zoran Grozdanov (University of Zagreb)

Lunch – 12:45-13:45 

Panel 2A: Religion and nation beyond Western-Europe – 13:45-15:30

  • ‘Unholy Alliances in Orthodox Christianity: comparing Greece and Georgia’ – Kristine Margvelashvili (University of Göttingen)
  • ‘The Orthodox Church and the Greek Radical Right: a paradox political relation?’ - Konstantinos Papastathis (University of Thessaloniki) and Anastasia Litina (University of Macedonia)
  • ‘The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as a builder and superfluous in the national idea of Ukraine’ - Eduard Berdnyk (Ukrainian Catholic University)
  • ‘Belonging without Believing? National identity and Contemporary Religious Pattern in Serbia’ – Marko Veković (University of Belgrado)

Panel 2B: Christian Democracy between religion and nation

  • ‘Home and heaven of Dutch Christian parties’ – Hans Vollaard (Utrecht)
  • ‘Still a Christian Political Party in the 21st Century?’ – Katharina Kunter (University of Helsinki) and Leon van den Broeke (Kampen Theological University)
  • ‘The Danish People’s Party and the Religious Heritage of Tidehverv’ – Erik Fiedler (Danish Institute Rome)
  • ‘Are Christian Values Religious or Political?’ – Magnus Hagevi (Linnaeus University)

Break – 15:30-15:45

Panel 3A: Ambivalences of religion and nation – 15:45-17:30

  • ‘Hosts or Guests? The Church of England and Dynamics of Hospitality in Local and National Contexts’ – Lauren Morry (University of Oxford)
  • ‘The Politics of Memory and Heritage Making in Contemporary Russia: The Relation between Politics and Orthodox Christianity’ – Tobias Köllner (Witten/Herdecke University) and Milena Benovska (South-West University of Blagoevgrad)
  • ‘Threats and safeguards: Political reasoning about the EU by Lithuanian Catholics’ – Rosita Garškaitė (Vilnius University)
  • ‘The Brothers Karamazov: “A Canonical Christian Novel”?’ – Daniel Hongde Li (University of Exeter)

Panel 3B: Islam in Europe

  • ‘Beyond Universalism and Particularism: Christianity, Islam, and Citizenship in Europe’ – Zachary Calo (University of Qatar)
  • ‘Spanish Memories of Cristian Identity: Racism, Populism, or Belonging Disorder’ – Samer Alnasir (National University of Education by Distance, Spain)
  • ‘Finding the true convert: tensions between church and state in asylum appeal hearings based on conversion to Christianity’ – Lena Rose (University of Oxford)

Public keynote and drinks at St. Mary the Virgin (University Church) – 19:30 

Tuesday 5 April

Panel 5A: Christian identity and politics beyond Europe – 9:00-10:30

  • ‘Resources for identity formation in “the West”: imaginaries of “Being Human” in the Life Sciences and in Protestant Theology’ – Michael Borowski (VU Amsterdam)
  • ‘Bringing Faith to the Communist Table: The Vietnamese Progressive Catholics and their Advocacy for National Reconciliation, 1970-1975’ – Thao Ngiem (University of Groningen)
  • ‘Building a Christian Nation and Politics: Lessons from South Korea’s Evangelical Churches’ – Myunghee Lee (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies)

Panel 5B Christian identity and politics beyond Europe 

  • ‘Between Christian Universalism and the Folk Church’ - Mika Vähäkangas (Åbo Akademi University/Lund University)
  • ‘Languages of Heart and the Nation: Tanzanian Church-State Tension over Religious Institutions’ Language Use’ – Andrew Marshall (University of Oxford)
  • ‘The Ethnoecological Catholicism in the Amazon’ – Adriano Godoy (Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning)

Break – 10:30-11:45

Panel 6 Christianity, the right and the far-right – 10:45-12:45

  • ‘Christianity Identity and Christian Nationalism in American and German Identitarian Movements’ – Emma Rosenberg (Notre Dame)
  • ‘God vs. Cesar vs. Cesar: Nigerian Pentecostal Churches and the Transnational Politics of Power with President Donald Trump’ – Abimbola Adelakun (University of Texas at Austin)
  • ‘Religious politics in Latin America: Populist moment or neocon takeover?’ – Joanildo Burity
  • ‘God, politics and the Covid-19 vaccine: Explaining a unique drama in post-communist Romania’ – Adrian Schiffbeck (West University of Timisoara)

Lunch – 12:45-13:45

Panel 7 Christianity, the right and the far-right II – 13:45-15:15

  • ‘A protest event analysis of anti-gender collective action in Croatia and Serbia’ – Ivan Tranfić (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence)
  • ‘The Catholic Agency of Saints in International Relations’ – Marianne Rozario (University of Notre Dame Australia)
  • ‘A global Network?! The role of conservative Christians in transnational pro-life/anti-abortion activism’ – Anonymous

Break – 15:15-15:45

Closing discussion: Christian identity in national, transnational and local space – 15:45-17:00

College dinner (smart-casual) – 19:30