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Workshop "Religion and Secularity in the Balkans – Past and Contemporary Case-Studies and Trends"

Leipzig University, 9-10 November 2023  

KFG “Multiple Secularities”, Strohsackpassage, room 4.55,

Nikolaistr. 8-10, 04109 Leipzig and online via zoom


Wolfgang Höpken (Leipzig University)


The changes in the religious field in the Balkan societies over the last 30 years have been as dynamic and ambivalent as the transformation in the political system, in the economy and the social and everyday- life. We have witnessed and are still witnessing a readjustment between the religious and secular, whose results and forthcoming directions are far from being clear. We are faced with contradictory tendencies and phenomena, which are hard to subdue to general interpretations and conclusions. As contradictory as the development are the repercussions within the academic debates. Sociologists, Historians and Anthropologists have come up with diagnostic findings of their own, sometimes being hard to reconcile. Those, who are more or less close to theories of secularization see the Balkan societies in an “early stage of secularization”, despite of an obvious increase in religiosity, which they describe more as a temporary follow-up phenomenon of a burdensome transition from communism to democracy and market economy, as a long-term effect of 40 years of communist atheism or as a result of a particular intermingling of religion and national identity, apparently typical for the Balkan societies. Those who are skeptical to the theory of secularization see the Balkan development more as part of a global revitalization of religion, confirming that religion even under the conditions of “modernity” and “post-modernity” has not lost its significance, proofing thus the conceptional bias and limits of any theory of secularization. Others, in turn, see the current development in the Balkans as an ´indigenous´ attempt to readjust the religious and the secular, based on the specific historical and cultural features of the Balkans, which cannot and should not be subdued to any “great narrative”, neither of a “western type” secularization, nor to the assumption of a global religious revival. 
Picking up individual case studies from various Balkan countries and bringing together representatives from different disciplines and approaches, the workshop, which takes place within the context of the work of the Center for Advanced Studies on “Multiple secularities” at Leipzig University, wants to debate the question, how the borderlines between the religious and the secular have been drawn, both in the past and during the more recent decades.

The workshop will take place as a hybrid event.