Churches during the Cold War: Communications and the Perception of the “Other”
The quarterly peer-reviewed journal State, Religion and Church in Russia and Worldwide / Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom (http://religion.rane.ru/?q=en/main) will dedicate a special issue in 2017 to the theme “Churches during the Cold War.” The editors are particularly interested in exploring how the Cold War influenced the relations between Christian churches and individual believers from the two conflicting “worlds.”
Since the end of the Cold War, both the ideological and methodological approaches of its study have shifted from a politicized emphasis on conflict to a more nuanced emphasis on contacts and mutual interactions over, through, and in defiance of the Iron Curtain. Today, as never before, the study of this war of ideological systems, texts, and symbols – an information war as it was – became relevant again.
The religious aspect of Cold War history has been relatively understudied. However, it was one of the key areas of that history, as religious associations and structures were full-fledged actors in the Cold War drama. Indeed, the opposition of religion and atheism was seen as a determining factor in the competition of the two “worlds”. Western states used the protection of religious freedom as a powerful political leverage; the Soviet bloc saw religion as an ideological and political instrument of influence. Despite official rhetoric and policies, religious institutions and believers maintained direct contacts across borders. Moreover, a complex dynamic of secularization and religious revivals continued on both sides of the Iron Curtain, amidst heated scholarly debates on these matters.
The special issue of Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ will address the following questions: What stereotypes, texts, and ideas concerning “the other” were crucial for both “camps”? How did these stereotypes influence the relations between religious groups? How the informational isolation in Communist countries shaped their perception of “the other”? What was the role of global religious structures, such as the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, or the Vatican, which had to elaborate special position to adapt Christianity to the bipolar world?
The journal State, Religion and Church invites potential participants to submit an application by December 1, 2015 both to the editorial address firstname.lastname@example.org and to the address of guest editors – email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application should include the name of the proposed article, an abstract (1200-1500 characters, including spaces), and a brief CV.