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Confessiones et Nationes.
Confessional and Ethnic Traditions
in Shaping Cultural Identities in Europe:
from Medieval Discourses to Contemporary effects


The aim of this research program is threefold:

(1) to analyze comparatively the links between confessional peculiarities of Europe's religious traditions and crucial aspects of cultural/ethnic/national identities in those regions of Europe, where Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism were dominating in Middle Ages and in the Early Modern Period;

(2) to analyze basic patterns of accommodating cultural and religious differences and contradictions in Orthodox and western Christian societies of Europe in the Early Modern Period;

(3) to find ways to uncover and to study the longue durée discursive structures of some present day cultural phenomena, which have been shaped (among other factors) by religious traditions.

Obviously an acute question underlies the whole project: how should the historical patterns of accommodating cultural, religious, and ethnic differences in the East and in the West of Europe be studied and conceptualized in order to provide more adequate understanding of past and today's ethnic, religious and cultural tensions among European peoples?

The program focuses on Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus'), East-Central Europe (Poland and Hungary), South-Eastern Europe (Romania, Moldavia) and France. This choice enables researchers to study different types of interaction between confessional and cultural structures as well as different types of cultural tensions in the contact zone between the Orthodox and the Latin worlds.

Particular objectives of this program are:

It should be underlined that the program is specific in four following respects:

(1) It aims to conduct a consistently comparative analysis of religious and cultural identities of societies in the East and in the West of Europe;

(2) A special emphasis has been put on interdisciplinarity, since the project aims to combine methods of historical, religious, social and anthropological studies;

(3) At the center of comparison has been placed the experience of the two major confessional and cultural areas, Byzantine Orthodox and Latin Christianity, in shaping cultural identities and accommodating cultural and religious differences;

(4) It aims to approach phenomena under investigation from the longue durée perspective.

Main sponsoring institutions: Central European University, Budapest (History Department, Pasts, Inc., Center for Historical Studies, CRC program); Center for Ukrainian and Belorussian Studies, Faculty of History, Moscow Lomonossov State University; Maison des sciences de l'homme (Paris), Institute for Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; University Paris-I Sorbonne-Panthéon.

Activities in 2003-2005:

Plans for 2005-2008: