Deadline: 15.12.2021

Drifting Apart or Consolidating? Religious and Secular Organizations in Political Constellations

Call for Papers for a Conference in Warsaw, Poland, on April 28–30, 2022. Deadline: December 15, 2021

In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as elsewhere, the religious and the secular have long been intertwined. Churches, denominations and other religious and spiritual organizational units, as well as state institutions, NGOs and social movements designed as secular, have formed complex relationships. Furthermore, such constellations have been constantly changing in response to both global and local trends in the wider society.

One of the most vividly debated developments nowadays is the rise of ‘illiberal populism’. There are academics worried about what they call ‘the great regression’ of democracy or ‘de-Europeanization’. Some others describe the ‘illiberal populism’ in more neutral terms, as an antineoliberal reaction to the economic crisis of 2008 that downgrades the power of symbolic and economic elites and enables a wide manifestation of alternative formulations. Today’s struggles over democracy and its interpretation involve religion, religious organizations and various ways of conceptualizing the social, as exemplified by the antagonistic relationship between promoters of the concept of ‘gender ideology’ and their opponents who employ the notions of religious extremism and fundamentalism in their critique. The COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified some such tendencies, and created a space where new constellations could emerge.

This conference aims at shedding light on the role of religion in recent political, economic and social processes; it encourages a perception of the situation as dynamic; and asks about the reasons for and consequences of the changing constellations of religious and secular actors. What is the relationship between religion and populist tendencies? Do religious and secular organizations drift apart as a consequence of today’s political struggles, or are there new points of consolidation and convergence emerging between them? How are religious and secular organizations involved in renewing old lines of conflict and creating new ones? Or, to what extent, are they engaged in minimizing political and social tensions? How do the changing organizational landscapes, public debates, concerns over democracy and ‘culture wars’ translate into the worldviews and practices of individual believers and those of no religious affiliation?
We particularly warmly welcome papers that address these and related issues and focus on Central and Eastern Europe.

The conference topics include, but are not limited to:

  • theories, methods and approaches to studying the constellations of religious and secular organizations in CEE;
  • local constellations of religious and secular actors: in the CEE region (as compared to other geopolitical locations), and in particular countries of the CEE;
  • local constellations of religious and secular actors in the context of transnational flow of ideas and transnational organizing;
  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religious and secular landscapes and methods for studying them;
  • majority and minority religions and their involvement in politics and political struggles;
  • religion and identity categories (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.);
  • discourses on the religious and the secular;
  • individual approaches to religion/spirituality and politics;
  • cultivating religion/spirituality in disconnection with political struggles.

Keynote speakers are:

  • Agnieszka Kościańska, University of Warsaw, Poland & University of Oxford, UK
  • Siniša Zrinščak, University of Zagreb, Croatia

We plan to organize the conference in a hybrid format: on-site and virtually. Participants will declare their mode of participation at the stage of registration. At the same time, however, we will continue to monitor the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic and we will comply with any relevant administrative regulations; we will host a fully online conference if that is the best solution.

Please, submit the abstract of your presentation (max. 200 words) using the abstract submission form on by December 15, 2021.

If you are interested in a specific topic related to the theme of the conference, you can organize a session composed of 3–5 presentations. In this case, please submit a 200 words proposal followed by full session details (names and affiliation of contributors, titles of their presentations) by December 15, 2021 to the email address: Please, note that participants of your session should individually send their abstracts (like all the other conference participants) through the abstract submission form by December 15, 2021.

Call for Papers and Further Information (Link)